Project HELLO is a grassroots project that began in 2009 when students in Coquitlam, BC decided to help the homeless on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside during the Christmas season. Rather than solely giving handouts, the 50+ students and teachers decided to provide the homeless with the power to give back. With carefully hand crafted, beautiful cards on hand, the homeless were invited to write to their friends or family with whom they may have lost touch. What happened next was a true Christmas miracle. One by one, homeless individuals throughout Vancouver and the suburbs of Vancouver embraced the idea and shared their stories with the group. Many had lost touch with family members, but with our encouragement, they took a risk and decided to reach out and send messages of love. Filled with hope, every resource possible was used – from internet searching to phone directories to even relying on community help – to try and track down the missing families. Driven by passion and a bit of luck, the team was able to successfully re-connect thirty families during the first Christmas season of Project HELLO. The feedback from the families was incredible and heart-warming. It became evident then that this project needed to become more than a one season venture. Project HELLO is now a year round project, run by students, staff and alumni of Dr. Charles Best Secondary and Thomas Haney Secondary. They help the homeless reconnect and repair relationships through cards, phone calls, and face to face reunions. By sharing these stories, others will hopefully be inspired to reach out and help the homeless in their communities.
To date, Project HELLO has helped re-connect 454 homeless people with their friends and family.
Project Hello was recently acknowledged in New York during a TEDx event with Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Ndaba Mandela. Click here to see his speech.
Together, with my students, we have shared our reflections of this incredible journey through our Book, Lessons of Hope. Our book can be read for free by clicking on the book here.