The homeless don't have the option to stay home or wash their hands frequently. Learn how Meghan supports the homeless year-round and during COVID-19 through her charity, Simply the Basics.
Based in San Francisco, Simply the Basics
is a hygiene bank that provides people, communities, and non-profit organizations with basic essentials. ToucanTech interviews their Founder, Meghan Freebeck. 1. What's your role at Simply the Basics and what inspired you to start STB?
I am the Board President and founder of Simply the Basics.
I was inspired to launch Simply the Basics, initially as a menstrual care drive for people experiencing homelessness, after having worked at a homeless shelter in Chicago for several years and realizing how much time was spent by staff trying to get the donations they needed for people or trying to redistribute the items we didn’t need. Not many people know this, but a nonprofit cannot legally throw away a donation, so if they don’t actually need it – that is a really big operational challenge that can take up limited space!
When I moved to San Francisco and was working at SF Suicide Prevention, I also realized that so many of the crisis callers were in distress because they were living outside and couldn’t meet their very basic needs. It is hard to think about anything else when you cannot even take a shower, or you have a cut that is getting infected with no way to clean it.
We wanted to achieve a simple goal of helping people access hygiene care, a basic human need, regardless of income. We know that hygiene affects health greatly, not to mention wellness and dignity. We also set out to save nonprofits time so that they could focus directly on their Missions and clients. That is why our model works with nonprofit partners so closely! 2. What projects are you working on at the moment? Your goals for 2020? What challenges do you face?
Today, our biggest priority is getting hygiene care and sanitization to people without access to handwashing in light of the thread of COVID-19.
We are working tirelessly to access products and get them to people who do not have an option to wash their hands or to “stay home”.
Our big picture goals for 2020 is to make the Simply the Basics Hygiene Bank a chapter model that can be replicated anywhere! We are excited that we received our Certified Trademark for the Hygiene Bank this year, and have developed an online platform so that anyone can host an activity and ensure that they are meeting our quality standards.
These standards are very important because we want to ensure we aren’t just giving items out that aren’t helpful, but that we are impacting health directly.
Fundraising is always a great challenge, especially because we would like to hire our first employee this fiscal year (currently, we work entirely as volunteers), so donations to keep operations going and hygiene products available is the greatest support.
www.simplythebasics.org/donate 3. What hygiene product is currently the most in-demand?
It is different for everyone! This is why choice is so important and ensuring that we are listening to the people that we serve.
We always remember that “choice” is incredibly important. Everyone’s needs are slightly different, even in hygiene care, we want to ensure that we are giving shampoo for different ethnicities and toothpaste for different dental health circumstances.
Of course, new socks are almost always appreciated. 4. Are there any hygiene products you recommend people to not donate?
A great rule to follow is “would I use this if a stranger gave it to me?”. If it is already used, opened, not hygienic, the answer is probably not!
We also only encourage items that create health benefits. So lotions are great, but not if they have any shimmer, which can cause rashes in the sun. 5. We work with a lot of schools and communities. How would you recommend them to get involved?
Host a Hygiene Bank Activity with Simply the Basics! We have opportunities on our website www.simplythebasics.org
to get involved anywhere you are located with a drive and a hygiene bank activity.
Also, donations make a big difference so that we can keep up with demand. To add a new nonprofit partnership, we need to raise roughly $1,000 every year. This covers the cost of products that aren’t given in drives, it includes the reusable, mildew proof tote bags and ensures they have their basic needs met, and it includes immediate needs that come up for health. Every dollar makes a big difference for our programs! 6. Can you explain to our readers the significance of Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and how that relates to your mission?
Maslovs Hierarchy of Needs is a philosophical understanding that when you do not have your basic needs met, you aren’t able to focus on any greater goals. This is what we are providing to people so that they can focus on greater goals – their basic human needs – and once received, they are better able to achieve other goals like employment, relationships, and more! Get to Know Simply The Basics:
Our mini-documentary that shows our programs and impact:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9g4MzJNiZzQ&feature=emb_logo
Written by Meghan Freebeck of Simply The Basics.ABOUT TOUCANTECH:
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