Innovative Thinking in the Business Sector Can Make a Difference.
Business can contribute solutions to social problems using the same innovations which makes them successful in the marketplace. Case in point – Amazon is including a homeless shelter into one of its new office buildings in Seattle. Solutions for homeless families.
Amazon has had a good, generous idea in Seattle. As Amazon has bought up old buildings to extend its corporate headquarters in Seattle, it purchased a downtrodden hotel. Instead of tearing down the building while architects designed its replacement, Amazon partnered with Mary’s Place to operate a homeless shelter for families. Mary’s Place is a leading non-profit in Seattle which operates seven high quality shelters and houses 680 people each night. A partnership between Amazon and Mary’s Place was launched. This was a temporary arrangement while Amazon designed a new building.
The idea is for homeless families to transition to permanent housing and stable lives. Four of Mary’s Place’s shelters operate as Family Centers that provide housing, employment, and wellness services each day for families experiencing homelessness.
“The goal is to help homeless families get into stable housing. Mary’s Place empowers families to take control of their lives by meeting basic needs such as hygiene, shelter, food, and clothing; and providing access to tools, information, support groups and resources to find employment, housing, medical, and financial services.”
Amazon tore down the old hotel and is erecting a six-story office building which will be completed in 2020. Demonstrating innovative philanthropy, Amazon has chosen Mary’s Place to operate its new permanent shelter in three of the six floors of the new building with 47,000 square feet of space for 65 families (up to 220 people) and even provide accommodation for family pets. Amazon announced $1M in matching grants to Mary’s Place for its operations and Amazon employees volunteer at Mary’s Place.
Note: Amazonians have registered 4,000 pets which are eligible to come to the offices, so it is no surprise that homeless family pets are welcomed into the shelter.
Amazon has also partnered with FareStart, a Seattle non-profit which has been helping people to get economic security for 25 years by proving them with culinary training. Farestart gives struggling people who are homeless, in recovery or out of prison the training, encouragement and hope they need get solid paying jobs in food service.
Providing real solutions to poverty, homelessness
FareStart has been helping people transform their lives through food for over 25 years—one
person, one job and one community at a time. People in poverty struggle to escape the cycle
they are in and often face other compounding barriers to getting and keeping a job. At
FareStart, we help people overcome those barriers by teaching them work and life skills
they need to succeed in the foodservice industry—and in life.
Through our restaurants, cafés, catering and programs that provide meals to social
services, shelters and schools in the Seattle area, participants in our programs get
practical work experience while giving back to their community.
We work closely with local restaurants to develop programs that provide the skills most
needed in the industry. This collaboration ensures that our program participants have
jobs available to them when they graduate. But it is their hard work and talent that helps
more than 90 percent of FareStart adult graduates land good jobs within 90 days of
completing the program. By investing in people and building
community, we transform homelessness, hunger and poverty into human potential.
~Fare Start Mission
Amazon has given FareStart 25,000 square feet of space for five restaurants and a food service apprentice program in their office buildings in Seattle. Amazon also matched restaurant profit and donations up to $1M to further support FareStart. Amazon employees provide a ready clientele for the FareStart restaurants.
Amazon is also matching $1M in donations for Friendship Place in Washington D.C. which is trying to prevent homelessness.