Jeff Humphrey

Finding Work for Panhandlers

Jeff Humphrey, Media Content Coordinator, 509.625.6308

Friday, December 1, 2017 at 2:52 p.m.

You’ve seen people holding signs on our street corners that say they’d be willing to work. Well, coming early next year, those folks are going to get their chance.

“This program will give individuals who are panhandling the opportunity to experience the dignity of work and begin the process of bettering their own lives,” explained Clark Brekke, CEO of Goodwill Industries.

The pilot project is called “Hope Works” and it’s a new, joint-approach by several nonprofit and civic agencies designed to help homeless or unemployed people looking for a new life “off” the streets of Spokane.

In the morning a driver and case worker will cruise the downtown core in a van looking for panhandlers.

Those willing to work will hop aboard and spend their day pulling weeds, gathering trash, or sprucing up our parks and at the end of their shift, they’ll be rewarded for their efforts.

“At the end of the day these individuals will receive a stipend and probably most importantly, information about employment services, treatment, emergency shelters and housing,” Brekke said.

Goodwill extended those services to Jason Hansen after an ankle injury ended his construction career.

“I didn’t want to ask for help, but they made it so easy, that I just wanted to do more,” recalled Hansen.

Goodwill helped Jason land a job at Kodiak Security while he finishes up college.

“There are life-changing opportunities that are available at Goodwill,” Hansen said thankfully.

The Hope Works program can also change the lives of people we see out there panhandling.

“Well it would provide me with laundry money, a little bit of pocket money for the bus and food,” predicted a panhandler named Gary.

Hope Works is modeled after a similar program in Albuquerque called “There’s a Better Way” that has already ended the cycle of homelessness for more than 20 people.

We asked Spokane’s panhandlers if they’d like a chance to work and several of them, including Gary, welcomed the opportunity.

“You know I would bust my butt for that. I’m physically capable of doing something,” Gary said.

If you'd like to support the Hope Works Project, text "CHANGE" to 50555 to donate $5, or donate to the Hope Works Spokane campaign at

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