He went into Boston armed with just an idea and a sign.
Oh: a big heart & a brazen mission to raise $1 million dollars for the homeless too.
His name: Justice Born.
His collective: Wreck Shop Movement
His Goal: bring back Club America
(a community center for the homeless – and also a support system to help them build tiny homes: a place that will be called Love & Comfort Inn)
Seeing something wrong, he decided he wouldn’t be like most of us. He couldn’t sit back any longer. He went out to create a solution. Homelessness hits too close to home [no pun intended] for him.
The homeless population in Massachusetts increased faster than in any other state in the nation, rising 40 percent since 2007 even as overall homelessness in the country declined, according to a report issued Thursday by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development”
(Reported by Katie Johnston of the Boston Globe)
When you have such an important movement, it is hard to decide how to start off explaining it. I thought this would be an appropriate story to encompass its spirit: the cafes that they garnered help from. It’s what first touched me about #LoveAndComfort. The shops: “Park Square Cafe” in Boston & “Cafe Moka” in Lynn matching donations to the homeless for free coffee.
But in the briefest sense: this picture and the gofundme page explain it best.
Let me bring you back to December 28th, 2015. The coldest day of the Winter yet in Boston. You could say it was the first official mark of the frigidness to come. The Winter Gods marking their territory, “Bite Me: I’m Here!”. Just the previous day the high was 50 degrees, and a few days prior we were wearing shorts on Christmas. The transition is not easy. And it even hit us: those in the comfort of our own homes, hard.
We started complaining about having to blast the heat, or being slightly cold in our own homes. Or having to brisk-walk during a short commute to work through the frostiness. It’s normal. It’s a busy city life and we easily get captured within our worlds.
Maybe we were grumbling about being a little cold AND hungry. I know I was. Just imagine the homeless plight, then. I imagined Justice & was afraid for his hunger and health/with the crazy weather.
He was fasting – in a city where people are known for walking by. But when you have progressions with cafe managers offering their places of business up, it gives you another push. It shows the world “Hey, this is something that WILL receive support, and WILL go viral”.
Below is a picture of 7 coffees I want to show you that were donated to the homeless thanks to your support & Park Square Cafe. It was On the first snow day of the year, and the coldest day: the low hitting 29 degrees. And then snowing and raining the next day too, hitting even lower temps. “Brrrr” is damn right.
It was perfect timing for the first two days of cafes providing the homeless with a place to come inside, be warm & drink coffee in comfort. The most unbearable 48 hours of the year
It wouldn’t have happened if he wasn’t brave enough to head into Boston with just a sign and some conviction. He did not need the backing of his friends initially, he just has this belief in himself that trumps the physical world. And he told the people around him to ‘just trust him – this will work’. And that’s exactly what they did.
It’s hard not to trust the man. This is the man who created a popular R&B soul night on a TUESDAY in LYNN (a North Shore suburb of Massachusetts). I would never attempt that. Wreck Shop Movement & their team are single-handedly making that area a music destination.
Ever since that creation: if I feel a Justice idea is too out there, I keep my mouth closed, because I know he’s going to make it happen, somehow. I rather watch & take notes than interrupt.
In the back of my mind I didn’t think a R&B/Soul dance party could flourish on a Tuesday (and it’s only been two months, too!)
From that accomplishment forward, pretty much everyone close to him KNEW to keep limiting beliefs to themselves – and it was either “support or be quiet” with this or any future idea. And then you just watch the magic unfold.
All from an idea and a sign.
To what eventually will be $1 Million & a community to help the homeless fish for themselves. Self-sustainment.
Helps the tax-payers too as they are spending more to keep them on the street, as J mentions on the GoFundMe page. It costs the government and everyone more. Approximately $31,050 a year to leave a homeless person on the street. But only $10,081 to house them.
(Source: Think Progress article here)
He brought this following quote up in a status, because clearly a lot of people were warning him to not go out there. To not fast, or maybe not put oneself out there because “you might get hurt & not raise your goal” or “no one supports the homeless”.
He/we can’t lose though. Because at the very least this movement creates a national discussion on homelessness. With all the videos, the footage, people changing their profile pictures, and raising awareness – it’s already a win.
If anything you learn from this article, let it be this: “Don’t let people tell you what is possible or not”. You’ll never get anything done.
The meeting with Franco, owner of Park Square Cafe, wouldn’t have happened if J didn’t go out with that conviction. If he listened to his peers. The man, whose family also donates their time to feed the homeless at a local food pantry, owns a cafe as aforementioned, and happened to see his sign and told Justice they would match any coffee donations he made with their own, bringing them into the establishment.
One result of that, for example, was this discussion with Gregory, also known as G-Boy, peep the video.
Greg said they were wondering where they were going to eat today and I came along. I walked with them, carrying one of their bags to Park Square Cafe (31 St. James Ave, Boston) and got them hot chocolate and a couple steak and cheese sandwiches. I sat with them, built with them on what they need to get on their feet. First a bed then a job. I got them both a bed at Pine Street Inn in Boston. Through conversation I learned Greg is a poet/ Hip Hop artist so I told him what I do with events and promotions and that I wanted to hear what he has to say. This video is the result of me being taken by surprise by yet another brilliant mind. I also told want to get him on the mic and we exchanged contact info. He was very excited, very appreciative and humble. All I can say is I’m honored to do Gods work. Now I’m about to go bring 7 more coffees to some homeless people downtown. Let’s keep this positive energy going strong and bring more #LoveAndComfort into the world.
I felt terrible for the homeless on this first day, and blessed for my own situation – and blessed that Justice & everybody donating were helping the homeless people discover that people still care about them. That love can still be rampant in such a fast-paced city. In the comfort of our own homes, the least we can do is spread a hug. Or some hope.
(Email For Justice: WreckShop101@Gmail.com)
It’s hard to not move on steadily when you have a strong team right there with you. Ryan Dragon. The fearless love & optimism of Michelle Richardson (also does art for the initiative), and Jonny Silva behind the #LoveAndComfort video series & more providing a wonderful support system.
People who are not helping financially are changing their profile pictures en masse, printing fliers (Paige Bentley), passing out fliers, or becoming a big brother/big sister to the homeless (an opportunity provided by J & Wreck Shop via this initiative). It’s low-investment too to become a big brother: as the homeless DO have professional support staff, anyway. You are just there for the comfort. Personally, I signed up today. It does not take money to contribute. It just takes a heart, and I commend all these people helping because…
We come from hip-hop, a place historically believed where if you show vulnerability, a crew will think you are weak. We don’t care. We are willing to look weak or “wimpy” as long as we are a step closer to the homeless having homes & a life again: Our God-given right. Not just a “house” either. There’s a difference
It’s just great to see the homeless being humanized again. Most people have this shit attitude against the homeless. “Oh they asked for it, they could get a job”. Jobs are great (sometimes for your health even) – it restores you back into society & feeling proud with your income. Keeps you busy.
But no they can’t just “GET” a job. They have to be led the way. Shoutout to Kevin Lilly, 23 year old leader of “Samaritans Steps“, a non-profit that does just that. The organization provides homeless youth with RESOURCES. And confidence. And guidance so they can get jobs. We all need guidance, and to share secrets. I featured Kevin for a Dreampreneurs Workshop speech (a monthly mini-TED talk Boston, essentially): that Justice actually recommended the space for. Another actuality that wouldn’t have been possible without borne into creation without his help.
J was homeless himself. I could not imagine what he went through but it was for long enough & enough times that he would wish it upon no one. He experienced how it felt – how people talked to you – treated you, walked by you like you were dirt – kicked out of random locations.
And I’m happy to say, with his dedication there will be NO WAY he doesn’t obtain success & be able to help his entire team out like he wants to.
Make sure to check this place out. Cafe Moka (in Lynn) seems to have some AWESOME jazz nights. Justice and Michael Victoriano: Wreck Shop affiliate, both posted some sweet footage of a jazz duo – I’m not even a cafe person and this appeals to me. Definitely a sucker for some good Jazz. And of course I’m instantly a fan with them supporting the homeless – but also with them being a mom & pop shop – ProU is all about supporting local businesses
4.9 stars on Yelp has to be for a reason. People saying the ambience is perfect, coupled with the friendly staff – has them hooked.
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