AMAZING PEOPLE AMONG US: Ron Kaplan's CITYPAK Project
Homelessness is an issue that affects over 600,000 Americans each year. Of those 222,197 are people in families; 58,063 are veterans and 46,924 are youths.
It’s easy to turn the other way when viewing this problem on the streets, or to pass judgements, filling in the story of what may have led to this point. One man did not turn the other way. Instead, Ron Kaplan decided to stare a problem facing these individiduals straight in the face and tackle it. This is why we are honoring Ron Kaplan as the first in our new series, Amazing People Among Us.
“After seeing a number of people walking around with backpacks that were made for grammar school kids or ripped-up plastic bags, one day I thought, ‘This would be a really great idea,’” Kaplan told Pollstar. “I started researching it and I couldn’t find anything that anyone had done other than recycling school bags. Those are inadequate for the needs.”
His previous work with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, along with noticing this real need on the streets, led to the birth of The CITYPAK Project. Ron and his wife worked with a focus group and the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless to create the idea for a functional tool that would aid life on the streets. He then went to High Sierra to design the bag with the functionality that would address those top needs.
Kaplan helped bring 2,000 PAKs to the Chicago Homeless in his first distribution. The Project has since spread to 10 cities and has distributed 9,750 CITYPAKs with plans to continue in full force throughout the U.S.
Hill & Partners aligns itself with the belief that all great things are possible, and we stand behind that passion to continue to Make A Difference. This is why, when Joe Brosnan, the H&P Account Manager for High Sierra, learned about the Project coming to Boston, he says “it was a no-brainer to jump in and get involved to support the effort.”
The Boston distribution was a great success from our perspective. Volunteers from Hill & Partners, Samsonite, High Sierra, Boston Health Care for the Homeless, and Americorps came together with Kaplan to bring 1,750 PAKs to the Boston area homeless in conjunction with a free Health Fair to educate on health issues and resources. As volunteers, we were showered with genuine gratefulness by the participants for the information, the care, the gift of the backpack, and for just being there for them.
Hill & Partners was able to gain support from clients, vendors, and employees to help contribute nearly $5,000 to the Project Fund, along with items to include in the PAKs, shipping and warehousing services for the PAKs and PAK items within the Boston area, and video capture services. It was an extremely gratifying experience to be able to help, and we extend a Big Thank You to all who also chipped in to make it possible.
The CITYPAK Project began as an idea, a concept. It was able to evolve into a increasingly growing reality through a passion to Make A Difference. This is how all great things can be accomplished. All it takes is an idea and a passion, whether making a difference for those less fortunate, for your company, for those around you, or for yourself. What will you Make a Difference with today?