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The Human Element

Fountain View Village Residents Turn Bags Into Mattresses for the Homeless

April 18, 2024

Carmen Shrieve

Twentieth-century anthropologist and author Margaret Mead once famously wrote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

In Fountain Hills, Arizona, roughly 30 miles northeast of Phoenix, Fountain View Village residents Carmen Shrieve, Cobe Frobes, and Jean Majeric are a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens doing what they can to change the world for some down-on-their-luck Arizonans.

Shrieve, Frobes, and Majeric are asking the community to donate plastic bags on Earth Day (Monday, April 22); the bags will be recycled into mattresses and other products to help local nonprofit organization HOMELESS MATters help the homeless. Once collected, the Fountain View Village residents fold, cut, and crochet the plastic bags into mattresses and pillows.

It takes 800 plastic bags and 70 hours to make one 30” x 65” mat. Since starting the program five years ago, the Fountain View Village residents have collected 20,800 plastic bags(!) and made 26 mats. That’s nearly 21,000 bags kept out of landfills, which is fantastic in and of itself, but turning those bags into useful items for homeless people makes it a huge win.

Jean Majeric

HOMELESS MATters relies on volunteers like Shrieve, Frobes, Majeric and others at Fountain View Village to fulfill its mission to deliver “Compassion Bags” containing the mattresses with toiletry items to area hospitality organizations serving the daily needs of the homeless.

The residents at Fountain View Village thought Earth Day would be the perfect time to ask for area residents to help them by donating as many plastic bags as they can.

Shrieve started the HOMELESS MATters program at Fountain View Village in 2018 with his wife of 65 years, and he is now continuing the work in her legacy. As a retired aerospace engineer who had contributed to the design of electronics for the M1A1 tank and F-14 fighter jets used in the Kuwait and Afghanistan wars, Shrieve understands the power of collective effort. He knows that small acts of kindness, when multiplied, can create profound change.

Shrieve folds and cuts the plastic bags, which are then wound into a ball from which Frobes and Majeric crochet mattresses. The scraps are then used to make pillows. They gather between five and 10 residents every few weeks to participate in the folding and cutting.

The residents don’t receive as many plastic bags as they used to, which prompted them to devise an Earth Day initiative encouraging locals to drop off their plastic bags at Fountain View Village. Once the mattresses are delivered to HOMELESS MATters, Shrieve, Frobes, and Majeric never see where they go or who benefits from their labor, so this truly is a genuine act of anonymous kindness.

Kudos to Carmen Shrieve, Cobe Frobes, Jean Majeric, and the other residents at Fountain View Village. Happy Earth Day!

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