Eryn Snowden-Rawley, Director
My name is Eryn. My father Mac Rawley was my inspiration for Macpack. He was always giving what he could to people who were in need, down and out, and destitute. While he suffered from his own demons he always worked to help others even though he struggled with helping himself. While he passed from this world recently, his legacy lives on in me. I felt I needed to keep his dream going in memory of and for the need of the community. I have always wanted to help others in need and wanted to take this further.
Two years ago I decided to make donations to a homeless center and other foundations to help our community. Through this I learned that many places were asking for particular essentials that were needed in the homeless community that could be given besides monetary donations. Having a career that required me to travel all over the country and sometimes the world, I could see the urgency of having particular essentials and how much they were missed when gone. A year later this led me to start putting together back packs on my own and giving them out to the homeless community. I would keep back packs for the spring or the winter season in the back seat of my car and give them out as I saw fit. In winter of 2012 I met Ryan Reddick through a mutual friend. While talking, I shared with him my passion for helping the homeless and my project of giving out back packs. He felt that my idea could be utilized even further on a larger scale, and together we decided to start Macpack and get our community involved to help Austin’s homeless.
Ryan Reddick, Technical Director
My name is Ryan. While I am not originally from Austin, it is now my home. Growing up my mother made me very aware of my community at an early age. I began volunteering and working with inner city kids back in Pennsylvania. I volunteered with the Boy Scouts, the Kiwanis Clubs, and volunteered at my local hospital. As I grew older I traveled abroad with a non-profit organization working in small towns and larger cities all over the United States and Europe. In the end it resulted in me doing over 5000 hours of voluntary community service. I moved on with my career and while I no longer volunteered as frequently, I continued to help my friends and loved ones in every community I lived in. I eventually met Eryn here in Austin. After hearing about her father and her passion for helping the homeless, I could not help but think there could be more done on a larger scale. I shared with Eryn the possibilities of building the scale of her contributions and together we formed Macpack.
Bonnye Davis, Vice President/Treasurer
Bonnye is married to Chibi, mother to two step-sons, and to 3 ½ year-old Keala, born at home in Austin, TX. She agreed to share some of her experiences and thoughts with our Macpack community.
- How did you learn about Macpack?
I learned of Macpack through Eryn Snowden-Rawley and my long-time friend Ryan Reddick. It was something they shared with me with pride and excitement, and they were eager for all of their friends and family to be involved in some way or another.
- What was it like being friends with Ryan?
Being friends with Ryan was very special and quite interesting. He had a heart of gold. He was one of the best listeners I’ve ever met, and an unusually empathetic individual. He made you feel very important, and he sincerely loved and cared for his friends—we were all dear family to him. Ryan always exuded a warm comfort—you could tell him anything!
Ryan was interesting because there was never a dull moment—he was always looking for new and cool things to get in to. He could brainstorm any subject and come up with workable solutions. His role with Macpack suited him perfectly and was inspiring as well. I was always comfortable being open with him about my experiences living on the streets.
- What attracted you to get involved with Macpack in a leadership position?
The attraction to Macpack comes from wanting to use the passion within me wisely. With all that is going on in the world, Macpack is a healthy, positive, progressive idea to support and take an active role in, while keeping a man’s name alive who so dearly wanted to help the homeless, and who took on their suffering as his own. It is particularly special to me that I’ve acquired the position of our late Ryan. I can only strive and hope to offer even one-half of what he brought to the table. I will definitely do my best.
- Can you share a little of your experience being homeless?
I was homeless as a very young teen. From age 12 to 16, I lived in abandoned buildings, parks, and anywhere that I could find. My family life was broken at that time and I turned to the streets as an alternative. I could never forget being homeless. It is a piece of my life in which I learned and experienced things that helped mold me as wife, mother, sister, friend, daughter and woman.
- What insights would you like to share with Macpack subscribers about being homeless?
The homeless life is most often misunderstood. All of us start in our mothers’ arms at birth, and find ourselves taking many different paths that can lead us to the streets. It is important to look at all the many reasons that people end up homeless, without judgment and with a more understanding and open-minded approach.
- Any ideas about how to raise awareness of homelessness with Macpackers and the public?
Becoming aware is a matter of personal choice. We have to stop looking at it as an “us versus them” type thing. We need to get people actually talking about homelessness in their daily conversations, just as they do the weather or the latest movie they’ve seen. We need to help people realize that homelessness will not go away just by ignoring it. Above all, we need to teach our children through example to show compassion, and appropriately share the reality and understanding of what we all face as human beings.
- You’ve been actively involved with Macpack from the beginning–what do you see happening with Macpack in the future? (Bonnye hosted the first Macpack tag sale after Ryan’s death).
My vision is for Macpack to grow, reaching more people in need, and for Macpack to become a name that people associate with support for the homeless—for our community (homeless or not) to know that Macpack is solidly there for them. Macpacks contain loads of comfort and hygienic items, and that’s really what it’s all about. Understanding the very basic of needs of humanity can lead to great improvement in peoples’ lives—they just sometimes need a little help.
- In general, how can we help eradicate homelessness in America?
Eradicating homelessness will only happen if we all step in and acknowledge the reasons why it exists. In essence, we can stop it before it starts. This earth provides enough resources for each and every person. It is the responsibility of us all to address this and actively take part in helping our fellow humans. I CANNOT EMPHASIZE ENOUGH HOW CRITICALLY IMPORTANT COMMUNITY SERVICES SUCH AS MACKPACK ARE TO SUPPORT THE HOMELESS AND GIVE THEM THE MEANS TO RETURN TO A MORE SECURE AND PRODUCTIVE LIFE.