A social initiative for the homeless, featuring food, cultural goods and poems. In collaboration with Josiane Asmane, Refugee Food and Liberté bakeries
Since November 2022, the teams of Thanks for Nothing, author and journalist Josiane Asmane, with the support of Refugee Food and Liberté bakeries, have been organizing bi-monthly distributions of meals, hygiene products and cultural goods for homeless and refugees on the streets of Paris. Since its creation a year ago, no less than 450 meals have been distributed, 200 books and cultural goods thanks to our 20 volunteers involved throughout the year. Let’s have a little chat with Marine van Schoonbeek, General Manager, and Co-founder of Thanks for Nothing.
P/A. Tell us about Thanks for Nothing. Who are you?
MVS. For the past 6 years, we decided to create a platform to bridge our passion for art and our personal commitment to solidarity. Our goal was to establish a connection between the art world and social engagement. We realized that our involvement in associations could benefit from the networks and visibility of the art world.
Today, Thanks for Nothing has raised over 3,000,000 euros to support nearly 60 associations, with 50 cultural institutions as partners and over 600,000 people impacted. This has been achieved through innovative artistic and solidarity projects in three areas: solidarity and human rights, access to education, and environmental protection.
Tomorrow, Thanks for Nothing will introduce “La Collective,” a new art and solidarity center at the site of the former Saint-Vincent-de-Paul Hospital (14th arrondissement).
P/A. Beyond financial donations and basic necessities, the FOOD & POEMS project, as the name suggests, aims to provide parallel poetic and cultural support to homeless people. Poetry is essential. What are your thoughts?
MSV. “Poetry saves lives!” This is precisely the motto of the association created by Josiane Asmane (author, poet, and journalist) with whom we launched the FOOD & POEMS project. Together, we collect books, poetry collections, and other cultural gifts for our outreach efforts. We offer them, carefully wrapped, accompanied by handwritten poems in multiple copies by Josiane.
Each homeless and refugee person in the streets of Paris receives a complete meal (thanks to the support of Refugee Food and Liberté bakeries), hygiene products, as well as a book, a poem, and, based on their requests and preferences, a postcard, colored pencils, notebooks, or notepads.
Contrary to what might be thought of as a secondary aspect, we have observed with each outreach that people receive these gifts with great pleasure and request them week after week. Sometimes even more than food because I believe that few people take into account this cultural and poetic dimension.
P/A. What message would you like to convey to our readers, and what are your needs and expectations ideally?
Thanks to over 20 volunteers generously involved throughout the year in outreach and the involvement of numerous partners, we have distributed over 400 complete meals and 200 books and cultural items since November 2022.
There are numerous ways to contribute to advancing this solidarity and cultural project. By making a material donation (packaged food that can easily be preserved, water bottles, hygiene products – sanitary pads, soaps, toothbrushes, toothpaste -, socks, blankets, cultural and creative items (books, notebooks, pencils, markers).