Two students strive to improve the lives of Seattle’s homeless

By Vivian Nowka-Keane, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Raised a Seattleite, senior Amaree Green knew in eighth grade she wanted to help feed the homeless.

“I love Seattle and love going down there all the time. But whenever I [go] down there, I always see homeless people on the streets and no one helps them out — I decided to be the person that helps them,” Green said.

While many high schoolers partake in community service clubs and activities, not very many of them focus on aiding the homeless.

“I think people don’t help because people like to say that homeless people don’t have jobs or are on drugs. Most or a lot of them have jobs and are living in their cars, or were in the army and got injured and came back to nothing,” Green said. “You can be homeless for many different reasons. Kids get kicked out of their home. Some people take advantage, but some people need help.”

I think anybody should be able to have a full meal every day.”

— Amaree Green

Despite taking on numerous extracurricular activities, Green continued to make helping the homeless a priority. In eighth grade she would go downtown to feed the homeless by herself every chance she had.

Freshman year, she found people who wanted to help her and that’s when things got big.

She decided to start a nonprofit organization and reached out to her friend and fellow senior Maddie Grennan, who she knew shared a passion for feeding the homeless and would be a dependable partner.

Grennan said she was thrilled with the idea because she’s “really into community service and volunteering.”

Although helping the homeless wasn’t something Grennan did regularly, she saw it as another way to serve. Prior to developing the organization, Grennan spent time over the span of more than two years volunteering at Cedar Way Elementary School. She worked with the 1st-3rd grade special needs behavioral class.

After getting Grennan on board, they realized they needed a name: Delivering a Difference (DD). They decided they needed shirts so when they took trips to downtown Seattle, the volunteers would be seen as a group and make the homeless more comfortable taking food from them.

Grennan later made a website as well as a Facebook page and other social media profiles for the organization, and after receiving some donations, the girls decided to make a GoFundMe account in November 2016, through which DD has made $825.

“We started out pretty much alone; just the two of us making 100 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in Amaree’s room, making as many care packages as we could with the supplies we owned. Then we worked really hard to get more people involved,” Grennan said.

Over the years, DD has grown from an organization that brings food to the homeless to a group that also offers clothes and toiletries.

I always see homeless people on the streets and no one helps them out — I decided to be the person that helps them.”

— Amaree Green

Green went through her closet one day to get rid of clothes and give them to drop boxes and Goodwill, then realized, as a Goodwill customer herself, people who go to Goodwill can afford things. She wanted to give clothes to people who couldn’t afford them.

“Hundreds of people donate to Goodwill, [and] people go there to get spirit day clothes [in high school],” Green said. “Jackets that don’t fit [us], homeless people love.”

DD aims to travel to downtown Seattle at least once a month and help the homeless by giving them these various supplies. The trips downtown serve as a time of leisure for Green. Many volunteers are recruited through friends, so they get to bond and have a good time while volunteering.

“It’s what I look forward to every single month just because we get so many volunteers and we all love doing it, we have fun and everyone meets people who tell them their stories and they’re so funny and happy,” Green said.

Their website reads, “We meet amazing people every time we go down there, all with unique stories on how they ended up where they are now, and what they’re doing to change that. We strive to change the [lives] of the homeless people in Seattle.”

According to Green, making the lunch bags and sandwiches takes hours and it’s difficult to coordinate rides with cars and space for all the volunteers at a time when everyone’s available. So, sometimes a trip will not be made in a particular month.

To notify volunteers, DD posts on their social media pages and website, always welcoming new volunteers.

Green and Grennan are currently trying to make DD an official, government-recognized, nonprofit organization so that donations can be exempted from taxes, but to do so requires a significant amount of paperwork.

Green particularly liked the idea of starting her own organization so she would know where all the money and donations were going. Clothing donations are kept in Green and Grennan’s home and when there is excess, they will donate to shelters or clothing bins.

Green also likes to keep some of the supplies in her car so she can hand them out to people on the side of the road.

Another reason Green wanted to create a new group to help the homeless was to be distinguished from religion. “With church [groups] I feel that homeless people are obligated to go to church or read a pamphlet to get food and I think anybody should be able to have a full meal every day,” Green said.

With DD, “people are just helping people [and there’s] no obligation,” Green said in reference to the organization’s slogan.

Furthermore, groups such as Key Club host events like toiletry drives once a year, but DD is always taking donations and keeps the same goal all year long.

One of Green’s favorite memories with DD was when a homeless man made Green and Grennan flowers out of toilet paper. He used what he had to show his appreciation.

Green’s long-term goal is to open up a shelter for homeless people in Seattle where people can learn job education skills and be given the ability to lead a successful life.

After high school, both Green and Grennan plan to continue to run the organization while they attend colleges in Washington state.

“There’s so much bad in the world and I think [Green] and I both do this to put in some good,” Grennan said.