Spirit of Generosity: The Power of Persuasion

Robert Smith
Emily and friend

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote that you “only need a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love” to serve. The Project HOME community is lucky that Emily, a 10-year-old neighbor in Philadelphia’s Spring Garden neighborhood, has both. And the gift of compassionate persuasion.  

You see, Emily, now a fifth grader at Friends Select School in Center City, tackled a unit on persuasive writing in fourth grade. The unit ended with an assignment to craft persuasive letter. Some of Emily’s classmates picked climate change and littering. For her persuasive topic, Emily called upon a recent car ride with her parents, during which she asked her parents how she could help whenever she saw someone who was experiencing homelessness.  

“During that car ride, we talked a lot about Project HOME,” reflects Emily’s Mom, Sarah, a nonprofit executive in Philadelphia. “It was the 360-nature of Project HOME’s mission that connected with Emily. And as a family, we’re always talking about ‘whose voice do we need to lift up?’ This is what inspired Emily’s letter, ultimately.”  

Emily got to work on multiple drafts and, with the support of her teacher, she was pleased with the fi nal product. In five concise paragraphs, Emily gave voice to every root and branch of Project HOME’s mission.  

“[Another] reason we need to provide housing to people suffering from homelessness is that when people live outside, it damages their health,” wrote Emily. “That could cause a lot of diseases like COVID-19, the flu, or even frost bite. If they had a home, they would have better health.”  

Emily closed her letter, “I am trying to raise a total of $500 before I donate [to Project HOME]. I hope you decide to help. P.S. I am little but I can do big things.”  

Like Emily’s post-script suggested, big things would soon follow. A goal of $500 soon became $1,401 in donations, which was proudly matched 2 to 1 by Emily’s parents.  

“I was really proud of the letter,” beams Emily. “I was excited to help and when the donations started to come it, it a really good result.”  

“It really showed power beyond what was expected,” reflects Emily’s Dad, Will. “It was inspiring to see the power of her words rally folks around what Emily was trying to accomplish.”  

And Emily’s message to other youth who have an interest in Project HOME’s work?  

“I want them to feel and know they can make a difference,” shares Emily. “Things like this [ending homelessness] are possible and we can make progress.”  

Project HOME has every faith that this is just the beginning of the ‘big things’ that are in store for Emily.

None of us are home until all of us are home®