It’s a common story across the United States, a story that many don’t like to talk about. But it’s a very real story that can hit close to home for all of us. “1.6 million Americans will be homeless on any given night,” says Jason King, the founder of Sean’s Outpost. “More than 1% of our population experiences homelessness in a year. It’s a lot more than we think.”
Sean’s Outpost is a homeless outreach program located in Pensacola, Florida. Its mission: to find lasting solutions to homelessness, hunger, poverty, and social injustice. And Sean’s Outpost is able to operate thanks to Bitcoin, and the community that stands behind it.
Sean’s Outpost was formed in memory of Jason King’s close friend, Sean Dugas, who was murdered in 2012. Sean had close ties to a homeless shelter in Pensacola, which was on the verge of being closed down. In light of the situation, Jason wanted to help by keeping the homeless shelter open and serving the hungry. From there, Jason has dedicated his life to raising awareness for the homeless, and also becoming an advocate for the less fortunate. Not just in Pensacola, but all over the United States.
The plight of homelessness in Pensacola is worse than other parts of the U.S. for one very frightening reason. In Florida, it’s actually illegal to be homeless. Given the legalities of being homeless, fundraising in Florida has been extraordinarily difficult for Sean’s Outpost. And this is where Bitcoin fits in.
Bitcoin has literally been a savior for Sean’s Outpost and the needy in and around Pensacola. By accepting donations in bitcoins, Sean’s Outpost has been able to continue to operate, and become a strong grass roots organization that is experiencing a great amount of growth. Bitcoin is making fundraising easy, where anyone in the world can donate instantly, which allows Sean’s Outpost to focus on the actual issues and causes that need their attention.
“We have taken fiat. If someone comes up to us at a meal and wants to help by giving us a dollar, we are not so callous as to not take it. But we don’t solicit donations in dollars. We think there are lots of problems with the U.S. banking system, and prefer to not be a part of it…as much as possible,” Jason said in discussion about his organization. “Banks are difficult. Credit cards are cumbersome. Bitcoin is easy. And we enjoy having full control over our funds.”
Making an Impact
One way Sean’s Outpost is able to raise awareness outside of Florida and the rest of the nation is through the Bitcoin Across America tour. Jason is running across the U.S. to raise awareness for homelessness. He also wants to spark a conversation, and bring more attention to help people realize how important of a cause this is.
The run started in Miami, Florida, and will end in San Francisco, California. Before beginning the run, Jason never thought there would be more challenges than the physical aspect. Since beginning the run, he’s realized there are plenty of emotional and mental challenges too. It is particularly frustrating for Jason while he is running, that he can’t also be back in Pensacola, Florida, helping out on the ground there. He is an activist at heart, and wants to be at the ground zero of activism.
Jason plans to run rain or shine. The route is across Highway 90, stopping in major towns along the way. He plans to also stop at Bitcoin conferences. Jason says he is very passionate about two things in life: Homelessness and Bitcoin. He recently spoke at the Texas Bitcoin Conference, SXSW, and more to come, as he makes his way to the West Coast. Jason has sponsors to help the cause too. KryptoKit, which is based out of Toronto, Canada, and Vibram, who provided footwear for his long journey.
Feedback from the Bitcoin community has been phenomenal. But he feels like he’s not doing enough. Jason says, “A common feeling among activists, is that you always feel the need to be doing more.” Everyone he’s spoken with has been very positive. There was of course the question of whether he could even accomplish this or not — but once he got through Florida, people actually believed he could do it.
To track Jason’s progress, please visit bitcoinacrossamerica.com or the Sean’s Outpost Facebook page. To help make a difference, you can make a donation with bitcoins. All proceeds go to support Sean’s Outpost.
Recently, Sean’s Outpost celebrated their one year anniversary. Also, a step in the right direction towards how the homeless are being treated is underway thanks to Sean’s Outpost. Pensacola City Council recently overturned the homeless “blanket ban.” City Council met and voted to repeal the ban in a unanimous decision. Councilman Charles Bare, who voted against all the ordinances last year, did move to eliminate the city’s prohibition on tents and other temporary structures on public property. “This ordinance is a cop-out,” Bare said of the bans. “What this says is that we don’t have another solution (to homelessness), so we’re just going to make it illegal.” Unfortunately, the motion to overturn the other bans failed to pass.
– The Blockchain Team