VANCOUVER, Wash. -- Made of flexible plastic and small enough to fit into a pocket, a cell phone case or even a bra, the 2017 Pocket Guide is written for anyone struggling on the streets of Vancouver.
It’s especially aimed at those living on the streets for the first time.
“It says trust your gut,” said Kaihtlin Kavanagh, reading from the Pocket Guide.
She became part of that growing demographic two years ago after losing a job taping legal depositions.
“I guess you really can't know until you experience it, live through it,” she said Thursday. “I never thought this could happen to me.”
It’s a story Lois Smith has heard that a lot.
“I thought, you know what, ‘What would happen if I were homeless? Where would I go? Who would I talk to?’” Smith asked.
The Pocket Guide is Smith's answer to those questions.
Earlier this year, after months volunteering a local day shelter, she came up with idea of providing a convenient, durable 'one stop shop' for those new to life on the streets.
The project was backed by Vancouver-based nonprofit Council for the Homeless, but directors say staff didn't write it.
“Every single piece of advice that's in there either came from someone who's experienced homelessness or was vetted by someone who’s experienced homelessness,” he said.
In the guide, you can find general safety tips, such as the importance of strapping valuables to your body.
There's also advice on getting free dental care and a list of city camping laws.
Smith and her team have printed 2,000 so far, and about 1,800 have been handed out.
They just received an anonymous donation to print 2,000 more next month.
“The more the community rallies around something like this, the more people we're going to touch and hopefully prevent folks from dying this winter, keeping them safe, keeping them in a better place than they might otherwise be,” she said.
An online version is also available here.
If you’d like to make a donation toward printing more guides, directors say you can give to the Council for the Homeless and write “Pocket Guide” in the memo.