I got a chance to chat with the head honcho at Sean’s Outpost a short while after announcing the 13,000th meal to the homeless in Pensacola, Florida, all served through Bitcoin donations.
Ruben Alexander: Have you spoken to the homeless you are serving about Bitcoins or how you are able to provide meals and shelter?
Jason King: Absolutely. By now, most of them understand that Bitcoin (whatever that may be) is responsible for buying the food they get. There is a pretty large sliding scale about the people who actually give a crap where the food comes from. It ranges from people that don’t even say thank you and complain about what they get to people that are extremely grateful, very curious about what bitcoin is, and have actually had me help them set up a wallet. We have a contingent of guys that have Androids that live in Martin Luther King Park downtown. They ALL have Bitcoin wallets now, follow the community, and do odd jobs online to earn Bitcoin. One of them has actually saved enough money to get an apartment, and is planning on doing that in the next week or so. I can’t say that was directly because of Bitcoin, but showing people there are alternatives, and options is always a transformative thing.
RA: What have been some of the reactions when homeless people find out about Sean’s Outpost?
JK: On the whole, everyone loves what we are doing. It takes a long time to build trust with the homeless community. They are very used to people coming out to help for a day or two, and then never seeing them again. I think it’s safe to say we have built that trust, they come to us with issues and invite us into their camps. They will also point newly homeless our way to make sure they are taken care of.
RA: Could you share any thoughts on what was going through your mind when you started this effort versus what you think of serving the homeless now?
JK: The biggest difference to me, is I would have never imagined, in a million years, the amount of animosity there is in the public for feeding homeless people. People equate it to feeding stray animals. I don’t know how you look at another human and see something less than a human, but I see people do that everyday. I have had people cut over three lanes of traffic to try and run me over for feeding a homeless person. I have seen people spit on and throw dirty diapers at the homeless. They recently passed a law to outlaw being homeless in the city of Pensacola, it’s called the no camping ordinance. I have been told that if I bring someone freezing [who is sleeping outside] a blanket, I will be aiding and abetting in a crime. It’s really a sad commentary. I think how we treat those less fortunate says a lot about us. I think before I started doing this, I thought we treated them pretty decently on the whole. I don’t really believe that anymore. But I think if enough us stand up and say that’s not right, we can change it.
RA: Do you think the news outlets over-emphasize profit and personal wealth?
JK: Without a doubt. I did for years. And I don’t really blame those that do. Society is definitely aligned to reward that mentality. But they don’t tell you that more stuff won’t make you happier. I am very fortunate in my life. My family and I are comfortable. But there have been times when I had much, much more. And I am much, much happier now than when I owned more or had a larger bank balance.
RA: How has this service affected your children’s outlook on life? What do they think about Bitcoin after their experience with Sean’s Outpost?
JK: I have three kids, Josie(9) she’s the one from the photo, Midgey(6), and Teddy(5). I think the fact that daddy spends his days helping the homeless has had a positive effect on all of them. They help me pack meals. They come to food sharings with me. They learn not to fear people that have less than you. And they have learned to just talk to people as people no matter what. I really hope they carry that over into their adult lives.
One final note. My kids love Bitcoin. They think it’s magic. They are enamored with the fact that Bitcoin has helped us help so many people. And they are fully aware of how valuable it is. My kids get paid for chores in Bitcoin Thanks for taking an interest.
Jason talks to another volunteer as they build homes for the homeless.
It’s quite moving to hear Sean’s Outpost helps people get bitcoin wallets on their phones, motivating bitcoin related job searches, and allowing homeless people to earn income and shed the title of being homeless.
At one point on his blog, he asked folks to consider donating 1 BTC, when bitcoins were worth $50, and said that donation would feed 40 people. Bitcoins are now worth $109.80 and 1 BTC should feed over 80 people!
Definitely consider donating to Sean’s Outpost and help this bitcoin charity serve the homeless.