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Local businesses asked to take “The Pledge” to help Seattle’s homeless

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SEATTLE - Aug. 29, 2016 - Devin Silvernail, Director of the non-profit, Be:Seattle, which has launched a campaign to encourage local businesses to help the homeless by giving them a safe place to get water, use the bathroom, or charge their phones. In the inset, a sticker the businesses post in their windows.

SEATTLE  –  A man on a mission to help Seattle’s homeless is counting on the kind hearts of local business owners.

Devin Silvernail is asking cafes and other businesses in Seattle to join a campaign he’s calling “The Pledge.”

Those that agree will put a sticker in the windows of their businesses, letting people in need know it’s okay to come in, use the bathroom, charge their phone, or get a drink of water.

He says, so far, about a dozen businesses are signed up, including three on Capitol Hill.

“It’s a collective of businesses throughout Seattle that is really doing whatever they can to help the  homeless in the neighborhood,” Silvernail said.  “That could be giving out a glass water, charging a phone, maybe giving a meal.  It’s really up to what each business wants to do.  It’s just reminding homeless folks that they’re still a part of the community, through this small gesture.”

He says he came up with the idea, after hearing about a similar project among cafes in Paris.

“So many people in Seattle are one bad situation from being on the street.  And I think that’s pretty much the biggest motivator,” Silvernail said.

The project is also distributing maps to the homeless that explain what “The Pledge” is, which businesses are involved and what they’re offering.

Diana Linde, who serves up ceviche, empanadas, sandwiches, and rice bowls at “Manu’s Bodegita” sandwich shop on East Madison says “The Pledge” is one way of addressing Seattle’s growing homelessness problem, with help from those who want to make a difference.

“When all the businesses come together to help, it just makes it easier on everybody,”  Linde said.  ”I think if everybody pitches in, it’ll eliminate a big problem we have right now.”

There’s a bench directly in front of the business for anyone to spend some time on for a few minutes.

“The bench lends itself to hanging out, having a water,”  she said.  “It’s an awareness factor, too.  It’s not something you just want to ignore.  That just perpetuates the problem.”

While some businesses invited to take part in the program have declined, citing reasons such as safety, liability and the idea that homeless people can be aggressive or suffering from mental health issues.

But Linde says she’s never experienced a “hostile situation,” from those who ask for help.  And she says  ignoring the challenges of homelessness won’t make it go away.

“I’ve lived in this area for a long time and I recognize some of the people that don’t have homes to go home to.   A lot of them are super nice.  Before making “The Pledge,” I  actually had been taking them water and stuff, because I recognized them from the neighborhood.”