My name is Jeff Minton. I am the Executive Director of Clean Socks Hope, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit that I co-founded in New Albany, Indiana. I work 60 hours a week without a paycheck.
I spend every day of my life in the Midtown Neighborhood of New Albany. It's a place of hopelessness, crime and suffering and it is the greatest job I have ever had and filled with some of the finest people I have ever known. We see some 30 to 40 street homeless men and women every week. We work out of a pay-what-you-can coffee shop offering dignity to those in need.
So, what's dignity look like? For us it’s an average of 20 to 30 showers a week out of our Midtown Commons Coffee Shop for those without a place to call home. We offer relational programming for those who want it, but we never offer hand-outs so that we don’t accidentally hurt or humiliate someone. We have our homeless sitting alongside businessmen and women, pastors, students and the indigent.
We believe that it’s not unloving to expect people to do their part. In fact, just the opposite. It's a cruel message to send that a person has nothing of worth to offer especially among the homeless. Many times the only thing left is their dignity.
We’ve discovered that the problem for the poor in an urban setting is that without viable transportation, many families face a 1 to 2 hour round trip trying to find healthy food options. This phenomenon is referred to as a food desert. Meaning, the Midtown community of New Albany, Indiana has no viable local grocery or department store and its lack of transportation issues causes our neighbors to walk or ride their bike past acres of alcohol, lottery tickets and processed food options. This is an open invitation to crime, drugs and sex trafficking.
That being said, our solution was to partner with our under-served neighborhood along with another like-minded nonprofit and change our community. So for this year's #GivingTuesday, we came up with a partnership with another like-minded nonprofit in Detroit called the Empowerment Plan. You see, they hire the homeless to manufacturer coats that covert into sleeping bags. They've been real world tested in the frigid winters off Lake St. Clair and the arctic Canada winds. They too believe that families must have skin in the game equal to the benefits they receive. Our goal on #GivingTuesday is to raise enough $100 donations that we can outfit our entire street homeless men and women community this winter.
We’re already offering our Christmas Store and low income Food Cooperative to the Midtown community, so why not benefit those men and women on the street that have been so faithful over the last 3 years? For us it is an easy call, everyone is worth our time regardless of their circumstance.
In the next few months, our goal is to raise enough money to clothe the homeless in southern Indiana. Operational services will be provided daily through programing in part by Clean Socks Hope, Midtown Ministries, Northside Christian Church and S Ellen Jones Elementary and of course The Empowerment Plan that promotes sustainability through education, outreach and training.
Our goal is to designate a 10-year master plan and when our current community is up and thriving, move to the adjacent or to the next neighborhood in need and replicate the process. Our goal is to be present each day in the lives of those less fortunate, be consistent in our message and in our work and to have high expectations even among those who cannot afford a cup of coffee.