PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - A 10-year-old Utah boy probably knows more about helping the homeless than most adults. And on Sunday, he brought Project Empathy to Phoenix to share how he’s been changing other people’s lives and his own.
Chase Hansen’s story started four years ago in his hometown of Salt Lake City, where he and his dad, John, ride public transit a lot. They see hundreds of homeless people every day. Chase said he wanted to take a chance at showing love to his neighbor because he’s a church-going boy.
“One day, he was just down there. He was like, 'Dad, [we’ve] got to do something,'" John said. They managed to convince a Jamba Juice to give them 150 smoothies for them to hand out to homeless people on a hot July day.
“Me and my dad just started talking to people and learning from their stories-- just trying to make a good connection with them,” Chase said. “You never know what is [going to] happen.”
What happened is he started having connections and conversations with people that haven’t stopped. Now, the Hansens call what they do Project Empathy. John and Chase are on a multi-state trip to share their experiences and invite other people to come meet the homeless in their area. The father-and-son duo stopped in Las Vegas before coming to serve food to the homeless at St. Vincent DePaul in Phoenix this weekend. Chase told Arizona’s Family about his homeless friend, Vaughn Brown in Utah, whom he has gotten to know better and better over time.
“They're human beings,” Chase said. “They're exactly like us. They're just in a worse situation." Most of the people Chase has met during his outreach were abused as children.
As Chase and his dad spread Project Empathy, they’ve also done a lot of social media outreach to get people involved and show them the power of a listening ear. “To me, it's my dream as a dad to be on an adventure with my kid where I can teach him but also become impactful and do it together,” John said.
“You come back a day later, and you just keep talking with them, and eventually you just become friends,” Chase said.