Meet the 9-year-old girl who's building homes for the homeless
It’s not every day that you meet a 9-year-old who is worried about building homes for the homeless or feeding the hungry, but Hailey Fort is no regular 9-year-old little girl.
At the age of 5, Hailey saw a homeless, hungry man named Edward on the street and asked her mother, Miranda, if they could buy him a sandwich. She did and the unlikely pair became friends, inspiring Hailey to befriend and help other people in circumstances similar to Edward’s.
In the four years since, Hailey has been selflessly helping others by finding shelter and offering food to those most in need. Recently, Hailey and Miranda decided to expand and formalize their efforts. They’ve begun building a series of mobile, individual shelters for people like Edward so, as Hailey told ABC News, “you don’t get rained on and you feel safe and stay dry. It just doesn’t seem right that there are homeless people,” Hailey told reporters, “I think everyone should have a place to live.”
So far Hailey and her mom have built just one of the shelters—which cost around $300 to make (many of the supplies are donated) and include a shingled roof, drywall, vinyl flooring, a solar-powered lamp and a lockable front door—and the two had to decide who to help first. Miranda told ABC, “[Hailey] went through all of her homeless friends and made the decision based on a number of things. This shelter doesn’t have a place for a wheelchair, so it wasn’t a good fit for Billy Ray. Similarly, it wasn’t a good fit for her friend Tonka, a dog, and his owner. Edward stuck out because he has always been so gracious when receiving food.”
Not only have the Forts physically constructed the shelter themselves, but they’ve also been diligent about studying city ordinances and receiving all proper permissions to make sure Edward’s shelter is legal and safe. Miranda told ABC News, “Our city ordinance on the issue states that it can be placed on a church lot. We have a few leads on churches that will allow his structure, but for Edward’s safety we aren’t disclosing where.”
And this is only the beginning of young Hailey’s philanthropic efforts. In the next year, she plans to grow 250 pounds of food to give to her homeless friends, build at least 12 individual shelters, and hand out thousands of personal hygiene items.
The food comes straight from Hailey’s garden because, yes, she grows her own food as well. She’s begun documenting her gardening progress on the Facebook page “Hailey’s Harvest.”
In 2014, almost 600,000 people were considered homeless in America, according to The National Alliance to End Homelessness, and almost half are families with children close to Hailey’s age. If everyone was as courageous and willing to help as Hailey and Miranda we could begin to see these numbers drop. If you would like to help Hailey meet her goals, you can donate to her GoFundMe page. She hopes to raise at least $1,000, and procure essential items for her homeless friends.
Hailey also has an Amazon registry where you can buy much needed toiletries and hygiene products.
This little girl has done more in a few years to make the world a better place than most of us have done our whole lives—we could all stand to have a little more Hailey in us. Go get ‘em, Hailey!