Former Travel Channel host Rick Steves has toured the world on planes, trains, and automobiles, building a name—and a small fortune—for himself. But it did not always come easily. Often equipped with just a backpack and a train ticket, Steves encountered firsthand how difficult it is to find a hot meal and safe place to sleep in much of the world. When he returned home to the U.S., the ‘budget travel’ guru decided to tackle a new adventure by helping the homeless in his local community.
Working with his church and the YWCA in Edmond, Wash., Steves purchased a 24-unit apartment complex called Trinity Place, where homeless women and children could have a safe place to live as they got back on their feet.
The free apartments provide them with all the amenities they need to succeed, and are located close to public transit, grocery stores and a community college. Many of the occupants are single mothers who have overcome addiction and are seeking to regain custody of their children.
As of early 2021, the program, called Project Reunite, has assisted over 61 impoverished families. Residents meet weekly with on-site family advocates, who help them create plans for self-sufficiency, overcome barriers to permanent housing and set goals for education, employment, legal issues, healthcare and financial security.
The success of the program has yielded surprising dividends for Steves. “Rather than collecting rent, my ‘income’ is the joy of housing otherwise desperate people,” he says.
This joy has led the travel guru to donate the $4 million-dollar complex to the YWCA. In doing so, Steves hopes to inspire others to seek the ultimate return on their investments: by helping others and putting their money where it can really make a difference.
After all, you can’t take it with you, so, leading by example Rick Steves is showing us all just what true wealth really is.
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