By Jeff Todd
DENVER (CBS4) – A new Denver startup is revolutionizing the way people help others dealing with homelessness.
“People are super thrilled by the fact they can log in, see a need, read a story and connect to that individual in a way that giving generally just doesn’t do,” said Dr. Jamie Rife, co-founder of Purposity.com.
The site was founded four years ago. It was only introduced to Denver in the middle of November.
Purposity has gained nearly 500 users in just one month in the Denver area. Plans for growth are coming in 2018.
On Tuesday afternoon, there were only two needs on the site. One for a microwave for a veteran who recently found housing after four years of homelessness. The other was a new comforter for an elderly couple.
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“We’re starting with quite a few agencies that serve individuals experiencing homelessness like Denver Public Schools Homeless Education Network, Mercy Housing, and then Volunteers of America at the Bill Daniels Center,” Rife said.
Purposity was able to get a bassinet, diapers and wipes for Destiny Garcia on Tuesday.
“I found out about it maybe a month ago. It was literally maybe a week before I had my son,” Garcia said. “She asked me ‘what are some of your necessities you need right now?’ and for me that was something for him to sleep in.”
The Denver Public Schools Homeless Education Network connected Garcia with Purposity.
“She’s one of our first families that we put on the platform,” said Anna Theisen, who leads the DPS program. “She’s an incredible single mom. Her students are in elementary school, so she was referred to our program through the school and we are really just supporting her. She recently just got into housing so we’re really excited for that.”
DPS’s Homeless Education Network has already helped 1,400 students since the school year started.
However, many of its resources are geared toward helping kids succeed in school. Purposity is helping fill the gap for a family’s basic needs at home.
“It’s really needs-based, individualized, and authentic and just 1-to-1 giving,” Theisen said about Purposity.
“I knew Denver was the perfect place to launch this. We have a lot of people that are young. They’re tech savvy and they want to help,” Rife said. “Our average need is right around $30 bucks. So, really, anyone has about $30 to spare because it’s general items.”
“I just want to say thank you. They don’t know me, they don’t know my situation and they still offered to help and purchase this stuff for my baby,” Garcia said.
Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he’s been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.