Seattle teen, Bella Steedly, shares a 48-hour look into her life and the causes that inspire her.
As told by Bella Steedly
My name is Bella Steedly, and I love history, Hamilton and my pet bunny Brownie.
As long as I can remember, I have always been interested in making a difference in my community and the world. The WE Schools program began that path for me by giving me a tangible goal, where I could truly see the effects of my service on my community and around the world.
Last year, I was asked to do a project for school called the “30-Day Project.” The assignment was to step into someone else’s shoes for a month, in order to live outside my comfort zone and learn what life is like for many other people around me. Homelessness is a prominent issue in Seattle, where I live, so I chose to step into the shoes of a homeless person.
For 30 days, I slept in a tent in my backyard and carried all of my belongings with me in a hiking backpack, everywhere I went. During this time, I learned so much about the effects homelessness has on people; I also learned to appreciate what I have.
This project began my journey and sparked my passion to find the root cause of, and eventually end, homelessness. I started LUMOS, a business with a one-for-one model: I sell handmade items and donate a basic necessity to a homeless person for every product I sell. Since starting the business last summer, I’ve been working with local tent cities and Seattle’s Union Gospel mission. So far, I have sold homemade paper straw lanterns, which turn into a flashlight donation, as well as hand-embroidered tote bags that help fund sleeping bags for homeless people. In the future, I want to add more items and expand my business!
I have loved learning all about the challenges of starting and running my own non-profit business; below is a look at 48 hours in my life.
Day 1 – Sunday
I wake up and work on homework for a bit. Then I calculate how long it takes to make a paper straw lantern and tote bag for my business, so that I can start to figure out timing for the next item I will launch through LUMOS. I have sold 54 paper straw lanterns and 11 tote bags.
I chat with my mom over lunch about new products I could get up and running on my website. I think about selling handmade friendship bracelets that provide homeless people with batteries. I do some research; batteries are super important to the homeless population due to the product’s short lifespan. This might be a way to get a lower priced item onto my website in order to appeal to more people and price points. I have to wrap up my research because I’m heading out to a movie with my family. Maybe I will try and make a sample bracelet tonight to test it out.
I finish up my homework for tomorrow and jump back online to research other items needed by the homeless community (water bottles, blankets, socks, hats, and bus tickets). I finish filling out the registration form for my local grocery store to get ready for the Homeless Care Kits supply drive I’m doing with Jenna, who started the WE Group Hello CHANGE with me.
I embroider a lightbulb on another tote bag for my Totes4Bags campaign through LUMOS. For every tote bag that someone buys, I donate a sleeping bag to a homeless person. Recently, I dropped off 10 sleeping bags to the Seattle Union Gospel Mission, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of the homeless. They’re going to pass the sleeping bags out to homeless people during their nightly drives through the Seattle area. Now that I am 15, I am able to volunteer with this cool organization and maybe even go with them on their evening rounds sometimes.
I get ready for bed early, so that I can make a few friendship bracelets to show my friends tomorrow and see what they think. I want to find a style that looks awesome but doesn’t take a super long time.
Day 2 – Monday
We’re late starting today, so I’m able to finish my sample bracelet and make a list of items to ask for during our Homeless Care Kits supply drive. I need to find another way to get socks, gloves and hats because they don’t sell them at the grocery store. I may do a collection in my neighborhood or use cash donations to fill that need.
I get to school and have free block first. I type up the flyer to hand to people at the grocery store for our Homeless Care Kits drive. I also show a couple of people my bracelet to get color suggestions. I think I might do a dark purple and blue one.
I talk to Jenna during lunch about our Homeless Care Kit drive. We have to figure out our timing and schedule. I also ask her about ideas for my new LUMOS bracelet project. It’s nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of.
I’m off to Driver’s Ed. I call the grocery store to confirm our supply drive and make sure they have us scheduled for our date and time. Everything looks good! I can’t wait to see how many items we can collect and pack. Maybe we could try to do something like this at school at some point.
I make a poster for the drive at the grocery store before bed. I think I will make a few posters for the table, as well. I might find some facts about homelessness to include, using resources from the WE Won’t Rest campaign in our WE Schools box.