spokane documentary homelessness

Meet Danny and his friend Shawna. Neighbors in a sense, they first met when Shawna offered Danny a cup of coffee where he sat, homeless, lingering in the alleyway behind her home. He’d been without a home for the better part of a decade, and he didn’t care for coffee. Yet Danny and Shawna formed a trust and friendship that evolved and eventually changed both of their lives for the better.

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Danny grew up here in Spokane, and he shares memories easily in his old neighborhood. He attended college at one time, and worked at an auto painting shop that has long since closed. But sometimes unbearable loss derails a person, and takes their story down an unexpected turn. A quiet alley to sit and be left alone in many years later found him in the right place at the right time to connect with a hopeful future once again.

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As Shawna grew a trust with Danny, she encouraged him to connect with resources through SNAP’s downtown office, where she happens to oversee their homeless services. In the meantime, she encouraged neighbors to leave him be and not worry.

“I could tell he was harmless. If anything, he was looking out for our neighborhood,” said Shawna.

Not only did Danny eventually receive housing, but Shawna submitted a wish for Danny through Umpqua Bank’s Wish Upon a Star program… that his new house be made into a home. Just in time for Thanksgiving, Danny has comforts of home and a safe space to call his own.

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umpqua wish upon star

“When our neighbors struggle, we want to help and we want to see it count. We yearn to create a connection – to make a lasting difference in their lives. Our Wish upon a Star giving program, does just that.” – Umpqua Bank

We had the opportunity to capture Danny and Shawna’s friendship as well as the kindness of local Umpqua volunteers as part of an unfolding documentary project for SNAP that will be released in the new year. For 50 years, SNAP has served the Spokane region as a leading voice on poverty. Last year, they served over 41,000 low-income neighbors in our community, including Danny.

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We are immensely thankful for the transformative power of friendship, community, giving, and gratitude. And for storytelling, and the connection that it creates. Happy Thanksgiving.

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Megan

Written By Megan Kennedy

Megan is an award-winning photographer and videographer with over 10 years of video production experience, from directing and editing national PSA campaigns to producing feature-length documentaries. Video is Megan's long-time passion, and her extensive work has been internationally distributed and has won many industry awards for excellence in production and storytelling. Megan also leads the team’s photography services, specializing in portraiture, product photography, event coverage, and creative photography for Web design.