It all started with a sandwich.
A few years ago, Hailey Fort of Bremerton, Washington, bought a homeless man lunch. After brainstorming ways to reach even more people, she decided to plant a garden and harvest fruits and vegetables for the local food bank. Fort’s work with the food bank inspired her to provide for even more of the basic needs of Kitsap County’s homeless community – so the 9-year-old recently started building small shelters by hand.
“It just doesn’t seem right that there are homeless people,” Fort tells K5 news station. “I think everyone should have a place to live.”
The “mobile sleeping shelters” are 8-by-4-foot wooden structures complete with windows, a door and insulation. Fort has almost finished her first one, which she plans to give to her homeless friend Edward, and has plans to build 11 more.
“I don’t really want [Edward] to be rained on by all the bad weather we get here,” Fort says. “If there was no insulation he would get cold. If there was no tar paper he would get a draft.”
Fort does all of the work herself (aside from using the power saw), receiving only guidance from her contractor grandfather and mother Miranda. Together Rising and Momastery awarded her with a $3,000 grant to help her construct the shelters, each of which costs about $300 to build, and the Lowe’s hardware store in nearby Silverdale has given her a 50 percent discount on materials. Fort has also set up a GoFundMe page to raise any additional funds.
“If she had her way, we’d have mobile sleeping shelters taking up our front lawn,” Miranda says.
But don’t worry, Mom, Fort is planning instead to place the shelters in Bremerton’s “Tent City,” which will open later this year.
The grade-schooler has continued to tend to her charitable garden, Hailey’s Harvest, in between construction projects. Last year alone, she donated 128 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to the food bank and she regularly updates the garden’s Facebook page with stories of her donations and the members of the homeless community with whom she interacts.