Tackling homelessness one-on-one

The Good Box co-founders Madelyn Jones (left) and Gali Blacher.

THERE was a precise moment when Jewish millennial Gali Blacher and her friend Madelyn Jones knew they would create The Good Box, a social enterprise tackling the sapping isolation of homelessness by providing opportunities for anyone to purchase, and personally give, useful everyday items to individuals in need.

“Maddie and I used to work together in Sydney at a charity magazine, and one day last year we both saw someone step over a homeless person – as if they were stepping over a rock – and that’s when we decided we had to do something.”

The Good Box sells three types of pre-packed boxes – one for men, one for women, and one that includes a treat like a movie ticket or a haircut voucher.

The Good Box co-founder Gali Blacher with Damo, a homeless person in Sydney.

Blacher said the system of direct giving not only provides full transparency, but usually results in eye-opening conversations that can be of great benefit, to both the giver and the receiver.

“There are still a lot of misconceptions out there, but it’s when you actually have a chat with someone that you realise that homelessness can happen to anybody.

“And what we’ve found is when a homeless person receives a box, it’s that personal touch that they value most.”

The Good Box also provides an option to donate a box on an anonymous basis, or to include a personal message for the recipient.

Importantly, 35 per cent of The Good Box’s profits goes directly to charities that are experts in helping homeless people – Jewish House, Orange Sky Laundry, and Share the Dignity.

“Jewish House and its CEO, Rabbi Mendel Kastel, have been absolutely amazing supporters and partners, and they invited us to have our official launch at their Bondi premises, where we sold our first 100 boxes,” Blacher said.

“Then we were fortunate enough to be voted second in JCA’s Jumpstart pitch night [in November] by ‘sharks’ Naomi Simpson and Andrew Banks, and received $15,000 because of the Jewish community’s support of social enterprise start-ups.

“We’ve used this money to launch our online shop, which went live last month – it will make a huge difference to what we’re trying to achieve.”

To find out more, visit thegoodbox.com.au.

SHANE DESIATNIK