A year after our cancelled meet up in Las Vegas (you know… 2020!), this Fall 2021 we finally got to meet Racheal, incredible human being driven by the aspiration to be “a light in other’s darkness”.
Founder and President of 500 Projects of Love, the nonprofit you support for every purchase from our Las Vegas collection, Racheal bichonnes* the local homeless community like no one! On a mission to inspire and empower others to make an impact in the homeless community, she invites us all to give a helping hand to those who need to be seen, feel validated in their life struggles and lifted up.
*From French : spoils
Who are you Racheal and how was 500 Projects of Love born?
Hi! I’m Racheal, a soon to be Graduate of a Master’s degree in Marketing and the Founder & President of 500 Projects of Love. What started 12 years ago in California
giving out baby clothes and supplies to moms in need led to a much bigger movement, now active in Nevada. In those years we have self-funded everything
and teamed up with other nonprofits to give back to the community in multiple ways from feeding the homeless, food drives, back to school drives, shoe drives and toy drives. My dad was homeless off and on for close to 20 years of his life before he passed away in 2019 on November 20th
, his 60th
birthday. Doing this work for so many years was always a passion of mine but things didn’t really come together until after my dad passed. It was at that moment that I knew running an official nonprofit and helping our homeless friends was my true calling. The number 11 means angels and 500 projects of Love became a 501 C 3 in our 11th year. This was very special to me.
What are the concrete actions you take?
Racheal's Bichōn or Irish's ACDC tee? We can't decide!
Currently we serve 100 to 200 complete meals a month and our goal is to reach 200 weekly. Our help ranges from offering hygiene products, clothing, shoes or blankets to providing our homeless friends with phone numbers for mental health, drug rehabilitation and other services. No matter what, rain or shine, we keep showing up and that is what makes all the difference. Our friends have come to trust me and my team, a rare thing in the community when so many are full of judgment for having been let down too many times. I have had people invite me into their tents, allow me to take their photos and open up about their personal story. I can tell you that Doug used to be a painter, Jay is from Hawaii and Joys favorite color is purple. You can be sure I’ll strive to find her a purple blanket for her next Holiday bag! I try my best to make a special connection with every single one of the friends I meet, in a society that dehumanizes them.
Jojo, one of the numerous veterans Racheal met during the last Valentines gift bag tour.
Why are donations so important, especially as we approach the holidays?
In Las Vegas there are over 5,000 homeless people in need of food and shelter on any given night. Yearly it is estimated over 14,000 people will experience homelessness, 22% of these are homeless youth. It is unfortunate, but the city does not care. In the last year the community has frequently been arrested for the “crime” to be homeless. They had their belongings stolen and destroyed by bulldozers multiple times, by the police and city officials who want to run them out.
Donations are so important because without them we cannot continue to help those the most in need. The help of the nonprofit doesn’t change their situations or fix their problems, but in that moment, they are shown love and compassion.
In the last year we started our Holidays of Hope Gift Bag program for Christmas, Valentines, Easter and Halloween, asking for money, granola bars, clean socks, bottled water and other supplies. At each holiday we now give out 500 gift bags. Every donation counts and especially around the special times as we aim to warm up as many hearts as possible.
What's your big dream for the association?
500 Projects of Love dream is to one day be able to own a mobile truck that provides showers and laundry services to our homeless friends. There are other organizations who do this; however, they are government funded and limited to some areas. The ones we serve are the areas that receive fewer resources, like the tunnels. The “dark” Vegas, literally an underground town. It has always been my goal to make sure that “the forgotten ones” get just as much help as anyone else. Every one matters.
You’d like to support 500 Projects of Love for Thanksgiving or any other occasion?
Bichōn x 500 Projects of Love... under the neon.