Jeff Humphrey

A Heritage of Helping the Homeless

Jeff Humphrey, Media Content Coordinator, 509.625.6308

Friday, November 9, 2018 at 12:05 p.m.

If you’re homeless in Spokane, then you’ve probably already met Bob Peeler and Amanda Boyer.

Both are familiar faces around our transient camps and street corners where they offer words of hope or a chance to earn some quick cash doing day labor.

Bob is an outreach worker for SNAP.

“How are you doing about getting your ID and stuff? Is that working out pretty good,” Bob asks of a man camped along the Spokane River.

"I got whole list of places that hire felons,” Bob tells a young woman living on the east side of Mission Park.

Amanda is caseworker for Hope Works. The Goodwill program offers panhandlers a chance to connect with services that can help them find a life off the street.

“Let’s find you something where you’re happy doing it, where you feel like you’re doing good,” Amanda says to a man who says he’s willing to work.

Bob and Amanda do homeless outreach in different ways, but the pair share a special connection. Amanda is Bob’s youngest daughter.

“She didn’t have a chance. Her mom’s a caseworker. And what was fascinating is, both jobs she got in the social work field, nobody knew she was my daughter until after they hired her. So, she did this on her own,” Bob said proudly.

And so you have to wonder why Amanda passed up better paying careers to follow in her father’s footsteps and help the homeless.

“I’ve been with my dad, being in the community, since I was seven or nine doing the sack dinner sets and that provided working with the homeless community. Building relationships even at that young age,” recalled Amanda.

A desire to help the less fortunate has prompted two generations of the Peeler family to reach out to the people a lot of us avoid.

“I tell folks the people we are visiting are our neighbors. Seventy percent of them are from this area and for the grace of god, it’s not you yet,” said Bob.

Neighbors or not, people who are down on their luck can be rather anti-social.

But Amanda's unassuming sincerity quickly wins their confidence.

“I know a lot of them feel lost out here already. Why not be the person who is right there helping them along the way," Amanda said.

It would be easy to lose patience with the process.

Beating homelessness is like giving up cigarettes; first attempts are rarely successful.

But Bob and Amanda are about removing barriers to recovery.

"We are doing good work. We are seeing people get back on their feet," Bob said of the progress outreach workers are making in the downtown area.

And if Bob ever doubted his mission in life, to change people's lives, his convictions are validated by his living legacy, his equally devoted daughter.

"And I see how she works with folks. The respect she gives other people and that makes me happy, makes me proud," Bob said with love in his eyes.

While some of us are still waiting for that magic wand to help the homeless disappear, outreach workers like Bob and Amanda and their colleagues are getting results one person at a time.

"You have to love each other and you have to be there. And you have to build these relationships or these people are going to be stuck out here and have nowhere to go," worries Amanda.

People stuck in what will soon be freezing weather. To find out what you can do to help end homelessness, visit the City of Spokane website.

More About...