NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Many New Yorkers will hand over spare change to the homeless. One woman has created a charity to not only hand-deliver donations, but also put the homeless into homes.
CBS2’s Steve Overmyer takes a closer look at Project Kind for Snapshot NY.
It’s a crisp fall day at Newark Penn Station. Trains hustle commuters to work as the city wakes from its slumber.
For some, sleep is limited.
For the homeless, it’s a rest stop, but not their last stop.
Walking down these stairs and through this terminal once again, one thing comes to mind for Myrna.
“I’m so grateful I don’t have to sleep down here no more,” she says.
Myrna slept here for two years to escape the winters.
“It was cold. Mostly I remember the cold,” she said. “Late at night, there’s nobody here. Unless somebody throws you out you can actually hide behind here.”
There are nearly 8,000 homeless in New Jersey.
“See that bench over there? See how quiet that bench is?” said Myrna. “This would be a great spot to hide out for a while.”
Her despair has been replaced by hope, all because of another woman’s compassion.
“My goal is really to remind them that they are loved and there’s so much out there for them, (to) encourage them,” said Jenny DePaul of Project Kind.
DePaul is the founder of project kind. A nonprofit that collects donations and delivers directly to the homeless. Her most precious gift is belief.
“Everyone deserves a blanket, a sandwich and hope,” she said. “That’s what we’re really delivering is hope.”
Five days a week she comes to Newark Penn Station to tell their stories on Facebook.
Last year she shared Myrna’s story. Public donations through Project Kind helped Myrna move off the streets.
“I really believe in housing first for everybody,” said DePaul. “That is my biggest goal is housing.”
Things are different for Myrna now, one year later.
“When I came in here I was sleeping on the floor,” she said. “I had no furniture. Nothing. Nothing at all. I was grateful to have a key to open my door.”
“When you’re waking up in a bed in your own place, you’re able to start thinking about all the other things you want to do,” said DePaul. “It’s a lot harder when you’re waking up freezing on a sidewalk.”
When homeless get housed, it increases their self-sufficiency and helps them reintegrate into the work sector.
Myrna wasn’t always homeless. After losing her job a few years ago, life spiraled downward.
“I went from $200,000 a year to welfare,” said Myrna. “I thought I had a nest egg. I mean, I had a 401k program.”
She’s not alone. A University of Chicago study showed that 51% of Americans are just one missed paycheck away from financial disaster.
“Once I found my spirit again, it was when I was able to start to try to find things again, to want to live,” said Myrna.
She’s not just living, she’s thriving. Myrna is getting her final credits from Rutgers University with a degree in computer science.
“Project Kind and Jenny really helped me with that desire, because I was going backward in my depression and I was getting to a point where I was getting ready to say ‘That’s it, goodbye,'” she said.
Because Jenny found a way to Crowdfund positivity, she’s put dozens of homeless back on track.
“I just know that I no longer have to be here anymore and I will do everything in my power to stay away from homelessness,” said Myrna. “Thank you to Project Kind, and hopefully people will hear this and help. Like she says, ‘We’re all worthy of love.’
“I look forward to a great future,” she said. “If I do just one good thing a day, That would just brighten up the future. I know it would.”
The success of Project Kind in New Jersey has allowed them to expand internationally. DePaul is opening a Project Kind in Toronto and Dubai.