bak·pak™ is a 501c3 non-profit organization committed to fighting homelessness. It is our philosophy that everyone deserves a chance, and it is our goal to provide that chance; it is our goal to help them make a come·bak. We plan to supply backpacks filled with food, clothing, toiletries and other necessities to those experiencing homelessness in the impoverished areas of downtown Phoenix. Any one can receive a bak·pak but in order to keep refilling the bak·pak, the bakpakers must attend our weekly workshops. We plan to host a 10 week program consisting of workshops that focus on training and counseling for those actively seeking employment, behavioral health intervention, opportunities to obtain essential goods, and many other opportunities designed to ultimately connect the “bakpakers” with jobs.
"In August of 2015 I began working as an Emergency Room scribe for an inner city hospital. The homeless population is rampant in the area, and the struggle for these individuals is apparent. There have been many moments where I’ve seen a homeless man come into the hospital. This person is usually wearing the same hospital socks given from the last visit, and are usually covered in holes. Sometimes an individual experiencing homelessness will come in with an extravagant story; they list symptom after symptom in an attempt to be retained by the hospital. The real cure to what ails them? A sandwich, or a warm bed. Initially, I did not think there was much more I could do other than to give him a few extra hospital sandwiches.
In the fall of 2015, I enrolled in a Public Speaking course at my university. The final project for the course was a seven-minute persuasive speech. The title of my speech was "Give a man your jacket, not your dollar". I spent weeks writing this speech with the intention of convincing my audience to give items of survival to the homeless, not dollar bills.
My college campus was in the midst of Downtown Phoenix. On a daily basis, the homeless surrounded me. After two years of walking by the same homeless man, I decided to stop and offer him a cup of coffee from the shop he was standing outside of. He was bundled in a dirty blanket, and under his hat I could see his weathered skin. He replied ‘no’, but did ask for a bottle of coca-cola. Instead of going into the coffee shop, I stepped into the mini market next door and bought him four bags of groceries. When I came back out I asked if he had a bag to pack them into and he said no. Being friends with the lady inside the market, I stepped back in and asked if she would give me a reusable grocery bag.
My giving him the bag and the groceries was the first kind thing another human had done for him in a long time. With tears rolling down his cheek he smiled with the few teeth he had, and kept thanking me. It was at that moment I realized there was more I could do.
A few weeks later, I was sitting outside trying to figure out an organic chemistry problem. As I looked up, there was Stewart, the same homeless man I had passed by for two years, crossing the street, proudly carrying the bag I gave him.
The purpose of this organization is to encourage students within the community, to help create these bakpaks. To give someone a bakpak, is to give those on the streets a second chance. We hope that with each bak·pak given, we inspire someone to move forward, and to make a come·bak in society.”
- Vivienne Gellert, President & Founder of bak·pak