Sunday, February 8, 2015

Design for Humanity, Meet Jessica Leslie and leave a better person.


Most 24 year olds concerns revolve around themselves and their immediate needs which seem to be of the upmost of importance, Their is nothing wrong with this my entire 20s seem to simulate that message. Its confronting and refreshing to meet someone who walks her own path and that path is lead by the needs of those who no longer have those freedoms.

Jessica Leslie is an incredible 24 year old,  of whom is wise beyond her years.

Her messages are simple and leave you with more questions for yourself to answer then you could ever expect.
It is her love of God which has sent her on journey and with a strong family behind her, 
Jessica is unstoppable.
Once a fortnight you will find Jessica heading to the City to hand out her Blessing Bags to the homeless ensuring these people are taken care of with life's basic essentials. She speaks of the importance of looking people in the eye and addressing everyone directly reinforcing that each of us holds so much worth.

It was a blessing to meet her and my gift is her story.

Click below to play our Interview Part 1

 Jessica's Story.

I can't take credit for the name, it was given to me by fellow peers at university. In a class with 4 Jessica's, you have to get creative. Jeslie is a delicious mix of a big heart for the people, a warm smile and a keen eye for innovation and world changing design.

So, who is the face behind the name? That would be me, Jessica. I am 2 years an Interior Designer, and 23 years a humanitarian. In 2012 I graduated with a Bachelor Degree of Design in Interior Design (Hons) from the University of Technology, Sydney. From there I worked at Chen Lu Studios as a Visual Merchandiser for French Fashion House Hermès, for 4 fashion seasons. I moved from there to work as an Interior Designer for distinctive Living Design, specialising in both commercial and residential projects, and still work there practicing design.

I balance my creative passion with my humanitarian passion. I began my humanitarian endeavours in 2014 volunteering at a soup kitchen. From there I realised my passion for it and have began to also make this my career. I am starting small and am excited to continue to grow. As Mother Teresa says "If you can't feed a hundred people, then just feed one". I am starting off with the one and hoping to feed the hundreds.

Her Projects:

Blessing Bags.

"Love looks like something" - Heidi Baker. To a homeless person, love looks like a blessing bag.

The What
The bags themselves are backpacks, therefore re-usable by the recipients. Inside the bags are all the items we consider to be the bare essentials. This can include: bottled water, museli bars, chewing gum, toothpaste / toothbrush, deodarant, hand sanitiser, body lotion, lip balm, cleansing wipes, thermal socks, gloves and a beanie. 

The Who
Blessing Bags are for the homeless and for those struggling to make ends meet. They are given with a smile and a listening ear, while some enjoy the conversation, others humbly take the bags and continue on their journey. 
The Where
We make the bags and deliver them once a fortnight. Our map at HQ shows us where we have been, how many bags were dropped off, and the estimated homeless population of that area. We find ourselves most busy in Sydney CBD and Parramatta CBD. If you happen to see us out on an early Saturday or Sunday evening, come by and help out.

The Why
After conversing with the homeless and studying homeless demographic maps in the Sydney area, we learnt a few things 
  1. Homeless people are those who have been laid off their jobs multiple times, who had dysfunctional family lives, who had rough childhoods and are unable to find work because they might be illiterate. And because of their previous circumstances, they had no family, no friends to turn to. So instead they turned to the streets.

  2. Homeless people are humans. Like you and me, they have basic needs. Just because they are on the streets does not mean that they do not need fresh water or lip balm. 
As F. Scott Fitzgerald puts it, "Whenever you feel like criticising anyone, just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had.

Soup Kitchen.

"The miracle is not that we do this work, but that we are happy to do it" - Mother Teresa. Because what can be more satisying than knowing you just helped a young family get through the week by passing them some bread?

The What
Soup Kitchen is a community event. It takes a whole lot of volunteers who are passionate about it to make for a successful night. The Soup Kitchen we are associated with runs the following stations for the visitors: tea, coffee & snacks, delivery of visitors food bags containing their selected items picked up from FoodBank during the week, dinner and products to pick up for free which can include: bread, dairy, fruit & veg and cereal.

The Who
Soup Kitchen is made up of two sets of people
  1. Volunteers. Every Friday night volunteering 2 - 3 hours of their time to help out.
  2. Visitors. The visitors vary between young struggling families, homeless, mentally and physically disabled and the retired.  

The Where
The particular Soup Kitchen that jeslie & co volunteer at is at Seven Hills, associated with a Church that we attend. It runs every Friday night from 5pm - 7pm and works with FoodBank and Community Care to be able to financially provide all the goods that we offer the visitors. This is not the only place that Soup Kitchens runs though. If you would like to go to one in your area, look it up or get in contact with charities such as St Vincents De Paul Society, The Smith Family or Youth Off The Streets.

The Why
Other than the few obvious reasons, other reasons are
  1. What we get out of it. Our main reason for going there is to give, yet in giving we receive. Every Friday we are pushed or challenged in a new way and each time we learn something about our own capabilities. It keeps us growing.
  2. The effect that our actions have. This is one to carry into our day to day life too. We never fully know the extent of a smile, a friendly conversation or giving someone bread actually has, simply because we have not been in their situation. We figure their situations haven't been great, so by our actions we want to give them a ray of light.

Ich and Du.

"It's not complicated. Just love the one infront of you" - Heidi Baker. The one and every one. 

The What
'Ich and Du' is German and literally translates to 'Me and You', said to be a strong phrase for a close connection between two people. A connection that we are trying to maintain not just with close friends, but with people that come into our daily lives. We are trying to elimate the 'its' and turn them into 'you'.

The Who
You know the tele-marketers that will call you right on dinner time? Or the lady walking too slow down the street or the trainee employee that accidentally gets your order wrong? Those people, which usually we refer to as 'its' are the people that this is for. We want to make the 'its' people too, because in actual fact, they are.

The Where
Wherever and whenever these people stumble into our lives.

The Why
This is a new concept to us, recently spoken to us by a very wise man. And it makes sense to us becauseWe are all people and we are all equal. While you are impatiently waiting for an 'it' to do their job, have a think about what is going on in their lives, we do not know their situation. We should try our best to approach every 'it' with the same love and kindness that we would show our family and friends. In a simple 5 minute transaction, they transform from an 'it' to a 'you'


    JESLIE: design for humanity
    Jessica Leslie
    PO Box 87
    Macarthur Square NSW 2560
    Tel: 0404 684 439