WCL: Gene Pellegrene: Helping The Homeless

Gene Pellegrene is an artist and owner of a painting company - Artist Painters - and he helps the homeless in his Logan Square neighborhood.

Last year he had a financial setback and went through some troubled times (but he was never homeless or near it). He began thinking that it could happen to him and he started noticing the homeless in neighborhood.

The experience changed the way he looked at people. He wanted to expand his idea of kindness, so he decided to do something. In April he started putting together some care packages. He had a surplus of things like protein bars and snacks, water and Gatorade - because those were things he had on hand for his painting crew. He figured those would be good - but he also thought about what else they might need - deodorant - wet wipes - Pepto Bismol, etc.

Everything he puts in the bags is small and portable and easy to use. He started making three bags - then it turned into 5-7 a week. He began by driving around and handing them out to the homeless. And he got to know them, they began to trust him. It was really a vehicle to stop and talk to these people and hear their stories.

He decided he wanted to document the project, so a friend started videoing taping him, and the homeless he has befriended.

He is just one man - out to give a face to the homeless we overlook every day.