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Dad, daughters link needy with those willing to help

SUNDAY, OCT. 4, 2009

When Jonathan Bishop’s young daughters asked where poor people go to get help, he told them he would try to come up with something. Two years later thousands of people in need have been put in touch with others willing to help through 2Hands.org, the Web site he founded with his girls, Faith, 10, left, and Grace, 6. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
When Jonathan Bishop’s young daughters asked where poor people go to get help, he told them he would try to come up with something. Two years later thousands of people in need have been put in touch with others willing to help through 2Hands.org, the Web site he founded with his girls, Faith, 10, left, and Grace, 6. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

How do I begin this? We are and were a normal family that has been turned upside down. I lost my job of 5 years at a Spokane Valley manufacturing facility. This happened 2 months ago and we have been running out of money, patience, food and are about to lose our home. I am simply looking for food for my family. If someone could PLEASE provide possibly 2 weeks worth of food and nothing extravagant. We just need the basics. I have 2 young children (boy and a girl) and really just need a kind heart to help us please. I can tell you more of my situation if you want to hear it. Thank you for listening.

Michael

It would take a heart of stone not to be moved by the examples of overwhelming need and selfless acts of kindness found on a Web site called 2Hands.org.

The “assistance portal” – something like Craigslist for the poor – has helped as many as 3,000 people nationwide since it was founded in Spokane two years ago.

If the above posting from a Spokane-area family doesn’t open hearts, how about this one from a Washington woman identified as momof2boys?

I recently lost my job and am barely getting by. My sons 4th birthday is this week. I really would like to get him a pair of shoes or pjs as he doesn’t have any that fit. He really loves disney cars and said he wanted cars pjs or shoes. This is a need as well as a want from my son. We’re not asking for a toy just something to help us as winter is nearing. He only has flip flops as of now. If anyone can help please let me know. We would be thankful.

The response came four days later from someone identified as D&S:

Hi Momof2boys, Read your posting and would like to help. We can send you shoes and PJs if you want to post the sizes.

The idea came to Jonathan Bishop two years ago while driving through downtown Spokane with his two daughters, then 8 and 4, who saw homeless people on the street asking for help.

“My daughter asked, ‘Where do they go to get help?’ ” Bishop said. He didn’t have a good answer. “I told her we would try to come up with something.”

So he and his daughters, Faith and Grace, came up with 2Hands.org, which has grown to include every state and Canada.

“We are now a nationwide resource that brings together those needing help with those who may have a hand to give,” Bishop said.

At first, Bishop and his oldest daughter, who is the faster typist, began “hand inputting” the postings from e-mails.

Now the Web site is a lot easier to use, but Bishop and his girls still monitor it daily to keep it regulated. Sometimes, like last week, they complete a transaction between the person in need and the person willing to help.

When John Hammond, a disabled Spokane man who lives with his girlfriend and five kids, got behind on utility bills, it was Bishop who closed the deal for the donor.

Hammond came across 2Hands.org while searching online for energy assistance. The utility had notified him that he would be shut off on Wednesday; he posted his request for help on Monday, and got a call from Bishop on Tuesday.

“He told me somebody wanted to help,” Hammond said. “The person wanted to remain anonymous, but pay Avista directly.”

He gave the account number to Bishop, who deposited the donor’s $126.04 directly into Hammond’s Avista account.

“They were really quick with helping people out,” Hammond said. “They seem like one of the places that actually care about helping people, and that’s really rare nowadays.”

Bishop said his Web site gives people a “one-on-one” way to bring change into someone’s life.

“The stories, they can be humbling,” Bishop said. “We have a lot of stories.”

There was the family that could not afford to travel to the East Coast to see their injured son, and someone bought them plane tickets. There were the abused mom and children who were helped out of their home. There was the family that needed firewood, and somebody bought them two cords.

Families adopted, Christmases saved, homes repaired, car payments made – Bishop maintained a page of successful transactions until he could no longer keep up with them all. He stopped counting after 2,000 acts of kindness. There could be 1,000 more by now.

Bishop, whose day job is with Goodrich Aerospace, said he intended the nonprofit Web site to be a local resource, “but it has moved beyond that.”

Visiting 2Hands.org is a study of the American condition in the recession. The site is a virtual Hooverville for the 21st century at a time when the down and out are not found in bread lines, but huddled in suburban homes waiting for the power to be shut off.

James Parker, who posted on 2Hands.org last week from Illinois, explains the situation for many of the new poor:

is there anybody out here that can help out a family of 5. Like a lot of americans these days, My wife and myself have been out of work for a while now. We have sold everything we can to try and provide food and clothing and try to keep up with our bills. We have totally drained our savings, checking and now have nothing. Two days ago our gas was shut off, in three days then will be the power. Then next to follow will be the water. Where does one go, What does one do? Where do you turn to? Our township is low on funds, so is our local churches. LIHEAP will not see us until the middle of october. So in the mean time now what? I am not here to give anybody any sob stories. But was just asking for a helping hand. Any type of information about anything out here that may be able to help us for the time being. If anybody knows any place or orginization please let me know. Thank you and god bless.



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