You’ve inherited $5 million, with instructions that you must give it all away — but you can choose any organizations you like to be the beneficiaries. Where does the money go?
Oh, this is an easy one. I would start my own charitable trust. I have long wanted to be rich enough to be a properly philanthropic person.
My dream is to build housing for homeless persons. Proper rooms of their own, in community groups… flats or apartments with shared kitchen facilities.
More than that, it would be a community housing project including workshops and classrooms and offering learning and training to jobless/homeless people. The centre would be run to a large extent by the tenants themselves, an interviewed/appointed service for which they would be paid. Small production units would be another valuable asset, providing real work and income in addition to skills practice. I like the idea of tenants making furniture etc. that can be bought for a nominal sum by tenants leaving the project to start their own real homes – just simple beds and chairs and tables. The fundamental needs. Over time the project could develop into producing more items.
Those tenants with skills would pass them on to those without and again, receive payment for classes taught. Specialist paid professional staff would be on hand to assist tenants back into work and to help them move out into other accommodation once they have an income. Over time the centre would grow as tenants used their new skills to build spaces for others to benefit.
The only requirement would be that individuals had a real desire to get back into the mainstream – to work and to grow and to share with others.
The centre would be drug and alcohol-free and accommodation would be contracted on this basis.
Like I said -a dream. There are probably umpteen reasons why my Utopia for the homeless would never work, but I like to believe that it would and to dream that I could do it.
Do me a favour? The very next time that you see a homeless person on the street? Don’t act as though they are invisible. Go speak to them. They’re almost certainly there through no fault of their own and will have a story to tell. If you can afford it, buy them a sandwich and a hot coffee. Just spend five of your precious minutes in making somebody feel as though they still matter. Be interested. It won’t kill you.