The Salvation Army prides itself on being a force for good, inspired by faith, to help others. Someone who also shares this ideal of putting ideas into action is young entrepreneur Dan Poole, who created Crêpes for Change to help homeless youth. Julie Houghton has more.
Who would have thought that a student exchange in France would lead to establishing a social enterprise business fighting youth homelessness?
In a nutshell, that’s Dan Poole’s story.
This inspirational young man spent time in Brittany, where crêpes originated. Every Friday night his host family had all their relatives over for crêpe night. After some wheedling, young Dan was allowed to try his hand at making crêpes and was even given the gift of the secret family recipe.
Fast forward a few years and Dan founded Crêpes for Change, an organisation dedicated to alleviating youth homelessness. In between, Dan honed his skills, when he returned to Melbourne, by spending several years working in creperies.
When he decided he wanted to do something about helping homeless youth Dan established Crêpes for Change in 2014, and began a crowd-funding campaign to achieve his dream.
‘Our plan is simple: we will roam Victoria’s streets, markets and festivals and spread the crêpe love for the benefit of those who need it more. We also want to establish a program allowing us to employ, train and support young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and allow them to find long-term employment and prosper on their own,’ Dan explained when launching his campaign.
That campaign raised more than $12,000, has garnered support from both sides of politics and endorsements from the Oaktree Foundation and the Australian Youth Climate Coalition.
While the Crêpes for Change van roams Victorian events—most recently at the Coburg Drive-In in March—the van is also available for corporate and general catering.
In order to follow his dream of helping youth less fortunate than himself, Dan took time out from his arts-law degree at Monash University, where he is majoring in Chinese language and international studies. He speaks French, Spanish and Chinese and is a founding member of Asia Options, an online platform connecting Asia-watchers with opportunities to work, study and lead in the Asia-Pacific.
And just in case he didn’t have enough to do, Dan also runs a Chinese-Breeze language blog.
Dan seems to embody the old saying that if you want something done, ask a busy person.
According to The Salvation Army website, youth homelessness has more than doubled since 1989. There are at least 36,000 young people sleeping rough in Australia every night, and The Salvation Army is seeing a concerning increase in the number of homelessness services and support networks spread across Australia.
Dan says the problem is more complex than young people simply being without a permanent place of residence. He says homelessness is a symptom of deeper underlying disadvantage, with a lack of support from a loving family or their community.
‘It’s heartbreaking to see people unable to leverage themselves out of a bad situation. We will run a program to provide hospitality and barista training to those that need it. This level of support will allow young Australians that are homeless to gain the skills needed,’ he said.
Dan is motivated by a desire to have a positive impact on the lives of others through entrepreneurship, and he’s passionate about social equality.
With Dan’s drive and commitment, and some support from those of us who have a roof over our heads, Crêpes for Change will continue to give young people hope and a chance at a new life. It’s what Jesus would have done.
For more information go to crepesforchange.com.