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October 11, 2012
By Tiffany Moore
University alumnus and People First Foundation Founder and Executive Director Courtney Bell is active again with the foundation's annual "Soap For Hope" laundry drive.
The People First Foundation is collecting any size or brand of detergent, bleach, fabric softener, dryer sheets, etc. to bring aid to needy families and those in transient living. The foundation's goal is to provide one-month's supply of laundry items to between 200 and 400 families locally.
"We can all use a little help sometimes," Bell said. "Especially those who are already helping themselves. This drive also inspires people to do something. It makes people reflect on what they're doing, and what resources they have."
Bell has two bachelor's degrees and a master's degree from the University of Nevada, Reno. His passion for the homeless sprang from his early teenage years, when he, his mother, two sisters and brother were living in parks, hotels and abandoned homes. During one park stay, police came over and asked questions of his mom, learned the family's situation, and used their authority to find a place for his family to stay.
The executive director credits many other authority figures, including the former University president, the late Milton Glick, for his success as a formerly homeless person.
He founded the People First Foundation in hopes of establishing an authority that can provide aid and encouragement to others like the police and Glick provided to him. But the foundation's help is only available under one condition.
"We only help people who want to help themselves, period," Bell said. "If adolescents don't want to win in life, they can't be in the foundation. Life is tough for everyone, for those who have and those who do not. Be that as it may, continuing to find a way to win, that's what life's about. And even when you fall short you somehow gain more knowledge and wisdom, so you're still winning, this is the mindset we teach."
In addition to laundry materials, monetary donations to purchase soap and laundry items are also accepted. Donors who leave business cards or notes with their full names will be sent a formal tax receipt for donating to a registered domestic 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization. Send by mail to P.O. Box 162, Reno, NV, 89504.
"No contribution is too small and each donation goes to help parents and children in need," Bell said.
For more information about the drive or People First Foundation, visit the foundation's website or call (775) 351-8120.
Tiffany Moore is a student writer for University Media Relations.