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Seattle business owners take 'The Pledge' to help the homeless

KOMO

SEATTLE -- Devin Silverman walks the streets of Seattle with a mission to help the homeless.

Silverman is going into neighborhood stores and asking owners to take "The Pledge," which is a commitment to offer simple services such as a bathroom break, a cup of water, air pressure for a bike tire and a place to charge a cellphone.

"It is basically pledging and saying we are here for you, you're our neighbors, we are here to help you out," said Silverman, who runs a small non-profit called Be:Seattle.

Peloton Bicycle Shop and Café on Capitol Hill was one of the first businesses to take the pledge. Part of the pledge is place stickers in the first window letting the homeless know what kind of services are being offered without fear of being chased away.

"I think it's a good idea to create a network of sympathetic businesses," said co-owner Aaron Grant. "The homeless are part of our community and shouldn't be ignored."

Back Alley Bike Repair in Pioneer Square was the first business to take the pledge. It's offering to inflate bike tires and provide a USB charging station for cell phones.

"They can plug in, set their device here and go about their business for an hour or so and be fully charged," said owner Ben Rainbow.

While many businesses put key coded locks on bathroom doors or signs saying "for customer use only," the pledge takes an opposite approach.

"Instead of being exclusionary, it's being inclusionary," said Silverman.

Stores are asked to offer only what they are comfortable with.

"I think it's great. It comes at a good time, too" said Rainbow. "More people are wasting energy wishing the problems away rather than embracing it, trying to co-exist with it."

Silvernail got the idea from LeCarillon.org, a business partnership in Paris that was started following the terrorist attacks in November of last year. He has been in touch with its organizers and says 70 business in Paris are offering services to people in need.

"It's not a solution, but I definitely think it's a step in the right direction," said Grant.

There is no city funding involved and no mayoral proclamation that started the pledge. It's just one man's effort to give the homeless some dignity.

Businesses interested in signing up and received customized stickers can do so at beseattle.com

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