Outreach for the homeless community has come from SPSCC. Jose Gutierrez, who works in SPSCC’s Diversity and Equity center, put on Hip Hop 4 the Homeless (HH4TH) for the 11th year in late Jan.
This year’s HH4TH was a three-day benefit for the homeless community in Olympia. The first day consisted of a radio special; the second day was a hip hop show with donation opportunities for the community; and, the third day, the donations were distributed.
According to Gutierrez, HH4TH started in 2002 in Vancouver, British Columbia through a local radio station with a donation drive for those in need. Gutierrez said that when he moved back to Olympia, he continued HH4TH in Olympia.
Gutierrez said that HH4TH was created to help those in need, and that he believes the hip hop community is responsible for helping poverty-stricken communities, as hip hop originated from many poverty-stricken areas. He also said that HH4TH gets back to the roots of hip hop rather than the materialistic style it has evolved to. He said the roots of hip hop are “peace, love, unity, and having fun.”
HH4TH volunteer, Arland Hurd, said he participated due to his personal experience with homelessness after he left the military. Hurd said he knows that resources are a great thing for those in need.
“It’s not going to end homelessness, but it is something,” said Hurd.
Leah Wade, another HH4TH volunteer said she began volunteering after attending the hip hop show four years ago. Wade said that after she learned more about what HH4TH really was, she became very interested, as both hip hop and reaching out have been a big part of her life.
Jeff Smith, a homeless individual from Olympia said that the homeless community needs all the help they can get, and that anything does help. He said that there are often issues with the homeless stealing from the homeless, so getting new supplies is frequently necessary.
Smith said that Olympia has a lot of resources for the homeless, and that you cannot go hungry here.
Jessica Binfield, a young woman currently in transitional housing said she attended to get clothing for both herself and her young child. Binfield said that HH4TH is really positive, with a good atmosphere and cool music, which puts an interesting spin on the resources they offer.
Gutierrez said there was a suggested donation at the door for the hip hop show, although nobody is turned away if they cannot contribute. He said there was an estimated $10,000 worth of donations, including food, clothing, books, and hygiene products.
Gutierrez said he believes that Olympia is a homeless-friendly community, and that people feel relatively safe, which cannot be said for all cities. He said HH4TH aims to represent the best of hip hop culture and to help speak for those who do not have the platform or advantages that others do. Gutierrez said that we need to look at the roots of the problem of homelessness.
“Hip Hop 4 the Homeless is not a solution but a gesture to say that we see you; we acknowledge you; you have a place within our community where you are welcome,” said Gutierrez.
Those who are interested in volunteering at future HH4TH events can email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.