The Smiths

September 2, 2014

The Smiths — The Film About Homelessness That Had To Be Made

By Lisa Gustaveson, Project Manager for Seattle University’s Faith and Homeless Project

A new animated film about family homelessness and helping neighbors 

We’d like to share a blog post written by Lisa Gustaveson for the Project on Family Homelessness Blog. In the piece below, Lisa reflects on the film “The Smiths,” one of four animated shorts produced as part of the Film and Family Homelessness project at Seattle University. 

By Lisa Gustaveson, Project Manager for Seattle University’s Faith & Family Homelessness Project

The Smiths   (click on to view video)


As program manager for Seattle University’s Faith & Family Homelessness Project, I spend much of my time visiting local emergency shelters, churches, synagogues and mosques. During my visits, I often meet dedicated volunteers who spend countless hours providing meals, collecting clothes, back to school supplies, and hygiene items, for people experiencing homelessness (you all know who you are!).

During these visits, the question I am most frequently asked by volunteers is, does any of this make a difference? They wonder if they really are helping to end family homelessness.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and unappreciated when the number of homeless families seems to grow every day. It’s also hard to find the best way to describe the importance of each and every act of kindness, how all those little gestures make a difference.

That’s why I was so excited when I learned about filmmaker Neely Goniodsky’s plans to create the short animated film, “The Smiths,” as part of Seattle University’s Film and Family Homelessness Project.

“The Smiths” is one of four short films created through the project, collectively titled American Refugees.