A willingness to care. A passion for connection. A platform for change. When these factors converge, they enable progress and understanding in our community.
Mikey Huff saw a need to connect with people in the homeless community and to share their stories. With the “Wool Sock Project,” he’s created a platform to provide not only physical necessities, but also emotional support to the people he meets.
His journey began with a simple pair of socks. He read that socks were the most requested item at homeless shelters.
“I can afford socks and this gives me an outlet, an opportunity and a reason to take some photographs and try to use the skill set that I’ve identified to benefit someone more than just myself,” he said.
What he found questioned his own preconceived notions and the preconceived notions that society had put forth.
“The easy one to identify is that they [homeless people] are all drunks, they’re all drug addicts and none of them want a job,” he said.
He discovered that the reality couldn’t have been further from that notion.
Through the project he’s found that the events leading to homelessness are profoundly different for each person. The easy answer is to group all of the people on the street into one category; however, that sentiment further alienates them based on a single factor, he explained.
Tackling the issue of homelessness has often been met with a blanket solution, shuffling individuals around. This doesn’t solve the problem; it only relocates it. As Huff has found, a blanket solution is not effective when each person’s struggle is vastly different.
“Really, the only core factor that’s the same between them is they just don’t have somewhere to sleep at night. Because they’re lumped into this category of being homeless, with that term comes all of these negative connotations,” he said.
Huff doesn’t want to influence how people think. His goal is to give someone who is often overlooked an opportunity to share their viewpoint and their experiences.
He’s witnessed firsthand the impact that providing a pillar of stability can have. After building a relationship with a member of the community, that person was arrested. Through that process, however, he was able to get treatment and was celebrating eight months of sobriety. Part of his treatment program was to build a circle of people he could lean on and turn to.
Huff became one of those people.
“That [pillar of stability and understanding] is often more than I could ever offer someone on a monetary or physical goods basis,” he said.
Huff wants to go beyond the one-sided “I’m only here to help you” dynamic and has built mutual relationships with the people he’s met through the project.
“Now I want a genuine relationship with this person where I can celebrate with them and be there to listen when they’re down,” he said.
The “Wool Sock Project” is dynamic in nature. It can grow or shrink depending on the level of community involvement.
“If tomorrow people decided they don’t care about the project anymore, I would still be able to go out and do it based on my own resources,” he said.
The project’s mission is to inspire others to make a difference in the world around them in some way. Huff wants people to find a way to utilize their personal strengths to better the world, not just in terms of the homeless issue, but in all facets of life.
“I don’t want people to think that the way that I do it is the right way to do it,” he said.
To learn more about the “Wool Sock Project” visit www.woolsock.org.