We got a guy a job and made $4

Jonathan Kumar
Apr 7, 2016 · 3 min read

the setup: the day before all this happened, we did an experiment where I sent a fake email to a small group of you guys that we actually launched both apps and downloading was a click away. We did it to test if anyone (and how many), actually cared enough to take action. We took the people who clicked to a different page and offered to pay them $40 as thanks for participating.

Several participants weren’t too mad about being part of a test and actually asked to invest the $40 back to early beacon holders.

The next day, I was at the Bread of Life mission speaking to Michael at the front desk on if folks could pay for lodging through their beacon (it’s looking good!). As we spoke, a voice came from behind my shoulder, “That sounds incredible.” I wheeled around to see a young man perhaps my age, with a gnarly orange beard.

Used with Shawn’s permission

I came to speak to Shawn and found out he’d been without a place to sleep for a year after leaving family in Ohio. “I was looking to stay in Seattle. But if I can’t find work, I’m going to keep pushing north. No one here has given me a chance yet.” I asked Shawn what he felt his most immediate needs were. He replied, “Credit to use my phone again, a rain suit, and yeah, probably a job so I could start saving money.”

I was sparked with an idea.

“Shawn, I have two donors who’ll give you $40 to help you get where you’re going. I know a “job hacker” we can hire — if we pay for the session, would you sit down with Andrea Cole and let her put out a ton of applications with you?” Shawn was all-in. He gave me his number and I shot a group text between him and Andrea. I was completely hands-off from there.

Andrea called soon after and they set a meeting the very next morning! I wasn’t around to see it, but was stoked to hear from Andrea on how the session went. I was left wondering into the late afternoon when this text landed.

I called Shawn myself and confirmed the news. He was ecstatic. With “unlimited” hours available, he said that “this job means everything”. He said that his training started in a week. He plans to save money while staying at a shelter to soon afford a sublet. :-)


It’s important to remember that this is just a snapshot in time. One day. We don’t know what Shawn’s come through, or if he’ll be successful and forever off the streets (though we’ll certainly be here to help).

However, I think Shawn saw hope for the first time in a long time. Andrea called it “a day she’ll never forget”. The donors were quite pleased to help. And we made a couple bucks off commission without really doing anything. Not a bad data point, and some momentum to suggest that financial resources + relational guidance can work.

Now just to get the tech part figured out..

Samaritan Journal

Tales From the Seattle Street

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