With support from our generous donors, Open Your Heart provided Freedom from the Street (FFTS) with funding to provide people encamped and living outside with winter survival gear, helping them to stay warm, dry and safe in -20 F to 30 F weather during the winter in Minneapolis.
FFTS’s mission is to open opportunities for people who are homeless along with families who are without resources, helping each other find resources and solutions. FFTS helps people experiencing homelessness, formerly homeless, on the verge of homelessness find resources by hiring people who have experienced homelessness to listen, support and help each other find resources and solutions. Since their founding, they have been meeting the immediate needs of people living outdoors in three main ways: through their outreach program, support meetings and community meal preparation.
One thing that makes FFTS unique is the staff they hire. Their team are people who are experiencing homelessness, formerly homeless, or on the verge of homelessness. The team’s skills include outreach and community organizing, peer counseling, facilitation skills, human resources, authentic leadership, training in culinary sanitation and food preparation. They let people be people, no sugar coating or nothing, just be yourself. In the words of their founder Junail Anderson, “We’re hearing their stories, we’re doing their paperwork and we’ve lived their stories. We’re using the experience that people have had with homelessness to help our people.”