While there is awareness that people sleeping on the streets need food, warm clothes, and blankets to be as comfy as possible, less is known about how to manage their wellbeing.
Those of us fortunate to live with a roof over our head often forget the simple pleasures that doing your hair, watching TV or listening to music can bring.
Just singing along to your favourite song is good for the soul, so much so it’s said to provide a ‘brain workout’ with its abilities to reduce anxiety and blood pressure.
Now, those living on the streets are getting a soul kiss too from the gift of music.
It’s all thanks to Paul Avila, a regular Joe who believes in changing the streets one heartbeat at a time by donating radios and headsets to LA’s homeless people.
Rewinding a little… Paul’s passion for philanthropy kicked off as a boy, when he accompanied his mum downtown to take food and clothes to his uncle on Skid Row.
This feeling of accomplishment stayed with Paul as he grew up, however, it was not until he became a father himself that he began to take matters into his own hands.
When his son Pauly was born blind and autistic, Paul swiftly learned that the only way he could calm his child down was with the sound of music in his ears.
This knowledge, together with his early experiences helping disadvantaged people in one of the poorest neighbourhoods in America, Paul began to work his music magic.
Using his own cash, he started purchasing radio headsets and distributing them to the homeless, naming his initiative Pauly’s Project in honour of his lad.
These headsets proved just as valuable as food, clothing and blankets, with the music giving the people on Skid Row a feeling of connection with the world around them.
As the news of his mission spread, Paul started getting more and more resources to purchase more headsets and soon his little project became a big mission.
In addition to the radios, he expanded to provide hygiene packages and meals too.
Speaking about his incredible work, Paul said: “I remember this night in Skid Row I had collected jackets and was donating them to my homeless friends.
“When it came to the last jacket, it was a little hard to part with as it was my favourite Laker jacket I used to wear all the time.”
He added: “I pictured giving it to a guy that would be a huge Laker fan. Little did I know, this older lady would say to me, ‘Are you going to give it away or hold it all night?’ She knew all the Laker statistics and was so proud to wear her new jacket.”
People like Paul and Pauly remind us why we do what we do, shouting about these champions in far-flung corners of the world fighting the good fight.