Meet Your Hosts - Sebastien Lundby-Thomas
Save this phone number. Today.
Before you read on, take a minute and save this number in your cell phone: 215-232-1984.
While I cannot tell you when you will need it, I can promise you that when you do, the person who answers on the other end of the line will help you make a difference.
Here is an example I can share from recent, personal experience.
On an early May morning, I was on my way to a Project HOME Rising Leaders’ Committee meeting. As I walked to my SEPTA stop to catch the subway, I noticed two women looking frantically at a man who was in a state of distress and, they feared, in need of medical attention. When I asked one of the women if everything was okay, she recounted a difficult story. The man was her friend, and he had been experiencing street homelessness and struggling with substance-use disorder.
She had seen him in a steady, similar state for the last few days, and he was now showing signs of an infection that was beginning to look serious. Concerned for both his health as well as his immediate safety, she asked me to call for help. The first step I knew to take was calling Project HOME’s Outreach Coordination Center (OCC) hotline, 215-232-1984.
My work with the Rising Leaders has taught me many things about Project HOME’s work. The biggest lesson? The solution to ending and preventing chronic street homelessness resides in each of us. Saving the OCC hotline in your phone and using it is a small, actionable step with deep impact.
If you live or work in Philadelphia, have friends and family you visit, or find yourself a tourist in the city, I encourage you to save the number – today.
In partnership with the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Homeless Services, Project HOME’s OCC provides 24/7/365 responses to anyone experiencing street homelessness. Project HOME’s mission to end and prevent chronic street homelessness happens through a number of programs—permanent, supportive housing, opportunities for employment, medical care, and education—and the path HOME often begins with a call to the OCC.
During my call, the OCC dispatcher calmly advised me to call for an ambulance and also sent members of Project HOME’s street medicine team. The dedicated and caring nurses arrived within minutes to care for the man’s wound, took the time to find out more about his living situation, and stayed with him until an ambulance arrived. While it was only 20 minutes at the start of my day until help arrived, that kind of time can make all the difference in what happens in someone’s life.
Sometimes it is hard to know when—and if—to step in and offer assistance. Through my experience as a Rising Leader with Project HOME, I know there are resources available.
And now you do, too.
Save 215-232-1984 in your phone and the next time you see someone who may need help from Project HOME’s OCC team, you’ll know how to take supportive action and make a difference.
Sebastien Lundby-Thomas is co-chair of the Rising Leaders Engagement Committee.