Every day on HuffPost, we're highlighting one 'Greatest Person'- an exceptional individual who is confronting the country's economic and political crises with creativity, generosity, and passion. Today we're featuring HuffPost Game Changers Seth Reams and Michelle King, who founded We've Got Time To Help after Seth got fed up with being unemployed and unproductive. WGTTH matches unemployed individuals who want to spend their new-found time lending a hand with local community-improvement projects. The nonprofit began as a blog that served the Portland, Oregon area, but has since expanded across the country.
Huffington Post: Tell us about how you two came together to found We've Got Time To Help.
Seth Reams and Michelle King: It evolved, fairly quickly, early last year. I, Seth, had been unemployed for a few months and was getting very depressed and withdrawing from life. Michelle and I started talking about what I could do to change my state of mind, and her suggestion was "to get out and volunteer somewhere." That evolved into a discussion about how high the unemployment rate was in Oregon (well over 10% at the time) and how it would be great if we could all get together as a group to do some volunteering. The next discussion was about how many people were hurting financially -- not only the unemployed -- and that maybe some of these unemployed skilled and non-skilled workers could be more of an immediate help in the community. That led to us create the blog to try and build an online meeting place for unemployed people to gather.
HP: What does We've Got Time To Help do?
SR and MK: Essentially, we try to help anyone with anything (except financial needs; after all, most of us are unemployed). When we get a request for help (whether it be for a leaky faucet, a leaky roof, some help moving, etc.), we send out a notice to all of our volunteers to let them know the specifics of the project. Because we have so many volunteers with varying schedules, not everyone can help at any given time. But usually we can get a few people to agree to meet up and complete the project. We never accept money for our work. The only thing we ask for in return is for the person we're helping to pay it forward when they get the chance. Whenever you are able, help someone else in need.
HP: WGTTH started out by helping others in the Portland area. How has it grown since its founding?
SR and MK: Exponentially! Up until a few months ago, we were still a fairly small, local organization. We now have requests (and volunteers) from well over 100 cities in 45 states to start WGTTH chapters! Not only that, but we also have requests from Poland, Ireland, London, and quite a few cities in Canada that want to start chapters, as well!
HP: You started WGTTH after becoming unemployed. Where do you stand in the job market nowadays?
SR and MK: Even after starting WGTTH, I kept looking for work and sending out tons of resumes. I had a couple of interviews, but nothing came to fruition. Thank goodness Michelle has been at a wonderful job for almost fifteen years and we were able to survive financially. To make a long story short, we started our own company. We are bird watchers by hobby and we have been making suet (a type of bird food) for years for our own backyard. It occurred to us one day that we should test the waters and see if we could sell it online and in some local stores. Today, we are in nine local stores, sell online to all over the country, and are growing steadily.
HP: Who are your heroes? Who inspires you?
SR and MK: The unnamed and faceless men and women all over this country who actively try to make their communities better places to live. They get out and volunteer. They help their neighbors. They lend a hand to those who they know need help. They are paying it forward. They are stepping away from their own struggles and helping out someone else. Most of us are selfish by nature, but these people find space in their heart and time on their hands to help another person. Those people are the real heroes and should inspire us all.
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