Andrea Suarez, a completely awesome force of nature, is a logistics pro living in Belltown with her husband and puppy. Last fall, she began taking on the task of cleaning up the public spaces around her, invented herself as a volunteer case worker for unsheltered people, put together a great logo, printed some cards and vests and just started making it up as she went along. What was originally I Heart Downtown Seattle, is now We Heart Seattle and her small army of helpers is growing.
One camper at a time, Andrea Suarez’s MO is to start picking litter and getting to know the stories of the homeless folks living in the tents at Denny Park (and beyond) and connecting those ready for change to housing and recovery solutions that make sense for them individually. Whether it’s allowing use of her phone to call family, coaxing people to accept 24/7 low barrier shelter at the Salvation Army or raising money for apartment move-in costs, her “no friction” approach is working.
She and her ever-expanding group have hauled 20,000 pounds of trash picked from parks, trails and shared spaces in less than 4 months and helped 20 people in need get off the streets in less than 4 weeks. That’s amazing progress by any measure. Short of cloning her to scale up the We Heart Seattle efforts, it’s up to all of us so inclined to be part of the solution to enlist ourselves to her cause. Join her Facebook group for updates and volunteer opportunities and don’t forget to throw some money at them to help fund the ever-escalating costs to get this work done.