This Nonprofit Gives Homeless the Dignity They Deserve [Q&A]

The most important part is simply the basics

Jan 2, 2017
Simply the Basics volunteers help package hygiene kits. (Simply the Basics)

Simply the Basics volunteers help package hygiene kits. (Simply the Basics)

Simply the Basics works hard to improve the overall health of the city's homeless and extremely low-income residents, by supplying them with hygiene kits including basic items such as clean socks, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, deodorant, wet wipes, first aid, and antiseptic.

The kits, which are distributed at various social services sites across the city, are tailored to meet the specific need of the location at which they are given away. Participating shelters can even make special requests such as adding female hygiene products for kits going to women's shelters or leaving out mouthwash because there is alcohol in it.

In this week’s 10 Good Questions Simply the Basics' Chief Executive Officer and Founder Meghan Freebeck told us what motivates her and her organization.

1. WHAT IS YOUR ORGANIZATION’S MISSION?

The Mission of Simply the Basics is to provide individuals, organizations, and communities their most basic needs with dignity so that they can focus on bigger goals.

2. WHAT MAKES YOU GUYS DIFFERENT FROM THE REST?

Often when hygiene products are given to people experiencing homelessness, they do not directly benefit the individual’s wellbeing and health and the process can be detrimental to nonprofit staff time and space. We work with medical professionals to better understand the impact of poor hygiene on health and provide items and guides to specifically meet those needs; we also listen to our clients to provide them with products in a dignified manner, and not as a handout. 

We believe in making lasting change on wellbeing and solving operational challenges of nonprofits through our programs. We build Partnerships with organizations and have created a re-distribution program to ensure no products go to waste. Our philosophy is to never assume what another person or organization needs, but to really understand their unique challenges so that they can turn their focus to greater goals. 

3. WHAT THREE WORDS DESCRIBE YOUR ORGANIZATION?

Dignity. Health. Maslow['s Hirarchy of Needs]. 

4. WHAT INSPIRES YOU?

I am inspired by the amazing amount of support we have received from family, friends, and the community. Simply the Basics only exists because people believe in our programs and are willing to give their time and money to see it succeed. Coming up with a solution was the easy part. It is the time, sacrifices, and generosity of others that is really what makes this all possible.

5. WHO'S YOUR FAVORITE GOOD DOER FIGURE?

I am constantly adding favorite good doers, but I am particularly inspired by J.K. Rowling. Discovering Harry Potter as a child set in place a series of events that led to my love of literature, studies in Shakespeare, and eventually a career in nonprofit work.

6. WHAT IS THE BEST PART ABOUT YOUR JOB?

I teach classes in our core life skills program, The Academy, so I get to see first hand the actual impact of our programs. Every time I see someone's life improve because of the confidence they regained, or talk to shelter staff that was able to find a home for their client because they weren’t spending time sorting through donations, I am especially proud of the work we do. There is no greater feeling than helping an individual move from homelessness into a home.

7. HOW DO YOU MEASURE SUCCESS WITHIN YOUR ORGANIZATION?

We measure success based on our two core values:

Firstly, by improving the overall health and wellbeing of the community and secondly, saving nonprofit organizations time and resources. In a recent survey, 100 percent of clients noted an improvement in their sense of wellbeing, and many shared that they felt better equipped to seek employment, receive social services, and reconnect with loved ones.

8. FACEBOOK OR TWITTER?

We are on Facebook and Twitter.

9. WHAT DO YOU WANT GOODNET USERS TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR ORGANIZATION?

We are a volunteer based organization and as such, every donation made goes 100 percent to our programs and clients.

10. HOW CAN PEOPLE GET INVOLVED?

We are incredibly excited to be launching chapters across the nation starting in January! When you lead or join a Chapter, you have a direct impact on the wellbeing of your community. Contact us at admin@simplythebasics.org to learn more.

DAVID RUHM, EDITOR & WRITER
David has a passion for languages and words, and loves to see people happy. He writes about inspiring ideas, amazing technologies and all the wonders of the world.