ASU Student Delivering Supplies, Friendships To Unsheltered Residents
When COVID-19 pandemic began last year and classes at Arizona State University went virtual, student Austin Davis suddenly found himself with some free time. It was also around this time that Davis first visited “The Zone” — a homeless encampment in downtown Phoenix — to bring people food and supplies as an intern for the AZ Jews for Justice organization. Since then, Davis has developed relationships and friendships with homeless communities all across the Valley.
“It becomes sort of like a family, you know, and you can’t turn your back on your family when they’re in a place of struggle," he said.
Today the initiative is known as AZ Hugs for the Houseless. In addition to bringing people meals and water, Davis brings them special request items that remind them of their former lives and bring them joy. That can be anything from art supplies to makeup to their favorite dinner or desserts.
Davis also enjoys spending time with the new friends he’s made through this work.
“Above the work, we’re friends," Davis said. "These are my friends, and I look forward to seeing them every week. It’s truly the high point of my week is seeing these people and talking with them and talking with them and hugging them.”
These emotional connections and friendships are just as essential to these community members as the supplies he delivers, he added.
Davis, who is in his third year at ASU, hopes to keep working with this community while he’s in college and possibly beyond.