I met with Travis Hysell on an overcast day in late May. We spent the afternoon talking about the various projects of the Legacy Initiative in the very coffee shop where many of the community enrichment ideas of the three year old, all volunteer run organization, have been spawned. At one point, we ventured to the trunk of Travis’ car where he keeps supplies handy to serve the community at a moments notice. From his Batman costume, to latex gloves or bottles of water, there is no doubt that this is a man committed to spreading kindness and ensuring that no one feels forgotten in our ever isolating society. Not only does this hold true for the people that he meets and serves on the streets but also within the very intentionally designed structure of the 600 person and growing volunteer organization.
For an hour or so after our initial conversation we spent some time picking up used drug needles and witnessing the current state of the homeless population on the streets of Salt Lake City. Two things were clear. First, the challenges facing the homeless population are typical of any urban center; spread out and limited services, a state of fear and dehumanization from the police, and little collaboration between the various stakeholders, not to mention territorial fighting within the homeless population itself. Second, the Legacy Initiative is disrupting the status quo in responding to these issues with signs of their innovative work seen throughout the city. From the New Hope Locker initiative to the public safety, humanitarian and sustainability volunteer teams that head out weekly on foot, there is no doubt they are bringing dignity, hope, and food lots of food, directly to those that otherwise are not treated as whole humans.
During our afternoon together I was privy to some new and even more innovative initiatives that this highly impactful organization will be spearheading and launching soon to take an even bigger stand for the homeless population and community. When I stop to think about all the work that they have accomplished, on a day-to-day basis over the past three years, I am amazed that 100% of all donations go directly to their services as they do not have any paid staff. It’s testament to their design for people first and their motto that not all heroes wear a cape; although if anyone deserved to wear one it sure would be this crowd of caring, committed and truly innovative individuals.