STORIES FOR EMMA
From founder, Lily Mercer -
"Meet Emma, my bike. For the past few years Emma and I have been handing out holiday boxes with homemade treats and toiletries. Each year I saw more and more homeless, particularly homeless women, and I was astounded that despite their circumstances, the women often wore makeup, and nail polish, and hair clips. (It seems girls just want to be girls.) So last year I focused on gift boxes for the women, adding eye shadow, nail files, lipstick, etc., while still giving out boxes to the men. As I delivered the boxes, not only did people want to hug me (which was incredibly moving), but they also wanted to tell me their story. They wanted to be recognized, to be seen.
Then it came to me: Maybe everyone wants to tell their story. Maybe we just haven't asked.
That's why this year I am launching STORIES FOR EMMA. Starting in December 2018 these holiday boxes will include a pen, a questionnaire, and a self-addressed stamped envelope. I’m asking these men and women to tell me their story – how they got where they are, how they survive, what their greatest challenges are, their greatest joys, etc. Someday I hope to publish the results, which might give us some insight into this growing population (and perhaps the finances to help). But for now, I just want to give them a happy holiday, and reassure them that they are not invisible. Their stories matter.
In 2017 I gave out around 60 boxes, supplying everything on my own. This year I was hoping to do more, but I needed help. So November 3, 2018 I started an online fundraiser, and ... wow. The support I received was overwhelming. Not only did people donate money, but they also donated goods - make-up, nail-polish, toothbrushes, wet wipes, bungee cords, small flashlights, you name it. I got huge baskets of donations from friends, and from my Bechdel Babes - writers from my woman's writers group. I started buying boxes, stamps, envelopes, paper, pens and ink. And I started the process of establishing an infrastructure to secure the future of STORIES FOR EMMA. I bought the domain name, built the website, made the business cards, etc. I want this to last.
Last year there were four items in every box, but thanks to the generous donations, this year the gift boxes will be the talk of the town. And hopefully, the people who receive them will take the time to fill out the questionnaires. Because I want to know who they are and where they came from. And I'm certain I'm not the only one."
To follow along on this journey, check out the Instagram page, @Emmthebike.
Then say hello to @lilymariemercer on Instagram as well.
And thanks for your support.
Our FIRST GIFTBOX
Our FIRST GIFTBOX
The plan was to start the first year of Stories For Emma on the first day of Hanukkah, December 2nd, 2018. But on November 17th, Lily met a homeless woman in a parking lot who was clearly in need. So she went home, put the first box together, and went out the next day in search of that same woman. Unfortunately she didn't find her, but that experience only proved how precarious their lives are. And it strengthened Lily's resolve to reach as many people as she could, as quickly as she could.
The wise man does not lay up his own treasures. The more he gives to others, the more he has for his own.