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Meet Shalane Goss of The Skid Row Project in LA County

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shalane Goss.

Shalane, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
We started out with only 300 brown-bagged sack lunches and a handful of people who wanted to make a difference. Now, we’ve been able to feed over 3000 people since we began. We call ourselves The Skid Row Project because we believe there’s a Skid Row in every city, and there are things that the community can directly do to help. Being a person who has experienced homelessness/extreme hardship before, I know what it’s like to need help and not have anyone in your corner wanting or willing to give it to you. Back when I was 13 years old, I was taken to pass out food in Skid Row by an old mentor of mine Matthew Biggs and my eyes and heart were opened. I couldn’t believe that many people were in the same situation and there was nothing being done about it. So, I went on to start The Skid Row Project as a way to “encourage people to help people, including themselves,” which is our vision. Without the help and support of our team, which has changed over the years, our partners, donors, sponsors and community members we wouldn’t be where we are today.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It has not been the smoothest road. One of our biggest challenges is resources and dealing with the negative perceptions people have about homelessness & the homeless community. One of our biggest goals is to try to re-humanize the homeless community since so many of us are desensitized to it. Many people judge and condemn the homeless without knowing their story or being able to relate to their struggle. Outside of that, our biggest struggle is having enough funding to be able to effectively deliver our services is the biggest problem at hand. But since launching again in January of 2019 after being inactive for a while, moving to LA and opening up our network to get more involved, some great things are happening and some amazing partnerships have been forming and we couldn’t be more glad. Through all obstacles, we’re committed to doing what we can, where we are with what we have.

Please tell us about The Skid Row Project.
We provide those experiencing homelessness & hardship in LA County with emergency resources such as food, clothes, hygienic supplies and other donations. Our vision is to “encourage people to help people, including themselves.” Since I am the founder of The Skid Row Project, I am the president of the organization, but I’m not too crazy over titles. I am the most proud of how many people we’ve been able to help in our community, and how effectively we’ve been accomplishing our vision. We’ve helped over 3000 neighbors in need.

We’ve been successful at getting other people excited about helping the community as well. I think one thing that makes us different is that there are a lot of creative people who volunteer with us. Since I am an artist, we curate this fundraiser called “Art Against Hunger,” where we have performances, creative vendors, food vendors, visual artists and more. They all volunteer their creative gifts and talents to The Skid Row Project to fundraise for us to be able to do outreach. Some actually even join us to help with the outreach, because either they previously had, or through the experience, have developed a desire to help others. That’s one thing I love the most that I feel sets the organization apart.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
If I had to start over, I would have never went back to full-time work for the past couple of years so that I could have spent more time developing the non-profit so that we could be helping more people. I quit my last 9-5 job in January of 2019 to re-launch The Skid Row Project, and things are going great for us now. But during the time we were inactive, when I was working a full-time job, we lost a lot of time which led to us losing the support of a lot of people. We are rebuilding all of that now, along with a new team and new partnerships so we can make a greater impact. We look forward to everything the future holds.

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