We spoke to founder and Year 11 student Hayden about his charity:
1. How did you first become passionate about helping homeless individuals and starting your charity?
On a family holiday to America in 2014, I noticed that everywhere we went there were a lot of homeless people sleeping out on the street. It didn’t seem right to me that others had to live like that whilst the rest of us live in relative comfort, and after a few weeks I had had enough. It stuck in my mind and I couldn’t get that thought away. It was finally in New York that I told my mum that I wanted to do something about it, and she told me that there are homeless in Melbourne too, and then my idea’s started to take shape. I decided that something needed to be done about this situation and I wanted to make that change!
2. What challenges have you faced while running the charity, and how did you overcome them?
One of the biggest challenges that HHH has faced was covid, like many others. We had to figure out a way to continue to provide our support whilst having to navigate lockdowns and new temporary laws like the 5km radius for travel which meant as an essential service meant extra paperwork to travel. This combined with a sudden spike in need in our local area, like some of the testimonies above mentioned, we had to come up with a way to continue providing support until the pandemic blew over. We had recently acquired a cage at the local parish to store our goods, so we came up with the idea to use it as a pickup hub for the local area. People would arrange with us via social media what they needed, and we would arrange pickup days which they would drive into the parish carpark and we would load the goods into there boot and they would drive away. We were also able to do drop-offs to people if they didn’t have a car or couldn’t travel outside their 5km zone.
A more recent challenge we faced was the ability to keep up with people dropping off donations and the storage of our goods as we were working out of our garage. So in the last year we have been applying for grants and were able to rent a small office in Bundoora so we can host school and work groups to assist with the charities activities as well as store our goods.
3. How do you balance your schoolwork and personal life with the responsibilities of managing a charity?
Before year 11 I was able to comfortably balance my homework and personal life as well as HHH but as school has ramped up this year and also will again in year 12 I decided to quit my part time job so I could not only focus on schoolwork but also on HHH. It is a sacrifice I was more than willing to make as HHH is much more important to me than flipping burgers for my own gain.
4. Could you describe the process of collecting and distributing essential items to homeless individuals?
The weekly outreach involves lots of behind the scenes work where volunteers regularly collect donations (also run school drives, Cooking classes to bake biscuits) of second-hand clothes, toiletries, nonperishable food, plus seasonal products like blankets and sleeping bags in winter. Youth Volunteers and parents come together on a regular basis to sort these goods in the office and make food parcels and crates ready to be placed onto the HHH van for our weekly outreach. The youth volunteers and parents meet at Rebecca Walk every Sunday morning and setup a market like stall where ~200 homeless a month come to top up their supplies of essential items. This also creates opportunities for people experiencing homelessness to interact on a meaningful and mutually beneficial level with the community and particularly our young people.
5. What are your future goals and aspirations for the charity, and how do you plan to achieve them?
Ultimately, HHH’s goal is to see ourselves no longer being needed, with the end goal of no homeless in Melbourne. Until that time we plan to keep on providing whatever support we can and to grow to be able to provide the level of support needed to achieve that dream.
6. What advice would you give to other teenagers who are inspired to make a difference in their communities but are unsure of where to start?
I would tell them to pursue whatever idea they have to make the world a better place. If I had dismissed my idea to start a charity 8 years ago then none of what I’ve been able to do would of happened, so take a leap and make the world a better place. You don’t have to go all in and start a charity if you don’t want to but anything you can do, be it helping at a soup kitchen or buying a sandwich for the next homeless person you see sitting outside a 7/11, all goes towards creating a better future. It doesn’t have to be about the homeless either the same applies for injustice you want to help with. As Roald Dahl once said, “Somewhere inside all of us is the power to change the world”. One day soon we will all be voters and then have even more power to drive for real change.
One of my favourite quote from Mother Teresa sums up my thoughts well: “I alone cannot change the world but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples…”
7. How can our community help?
There are many ways that you can help, through everyday donations such as toiletries, food and pantry items, blankets etc, or by supporting us with our Sleep Like They Do fundraiser, either as a participant or sponsor. We also have a large community of volunteers, some of who are Whitefriars students and would love to see more join us, so also think about if you would like to become a volunteer.