I remember one of the first times I encountered a homeless person. They shook a little cup full of change as I walked by. I wanted to give some change but I was warned against it. “They’ll probably just use it to get beer,” I was told.
I remember a scene in the Terry Gilliam movie The Fisher King, where a handicapped veteran played by Tom Waits (of all people) is holding out a cup while sitting in a subway. Someone runs by, and plops a coin into his cup of coffee.
“They didn’t even look at you,” Jeff Bridges’ character says. “Of course they don’t look. They’re paying me so they don’t have to look.”
In my hometown, it is well known that there is a family that stands at a corner holding up a sign about how they need money, and a different family member sits in the wheelchair each day. We have learned not to trust people who say they are homeless because of that family. How do we know they’re not all fakes?
They’re Not All Fakes
This is just a sampling of what we are up against as we try to fight homelessness. Stereotypes, feelings of distrust or fear, maybe even societal shame.
Mark Horvath, founder of InvisiblePeople.TV and known as @HardlyNormal on Twitter, shines the light on all of this, and has done so for years now. Mark travels the country and aims the video camera at homeless people who finally get to tell their story. He has met homeless veterans, homeless families, homeless drug addicts, and homeless nomads.
Despite the uphill battle, I’ve never, in watching Mark do his work, see him use the word “discouraged.” But he used it last week in reference to how little progress he was making in raising funds for his @Home Campaign.
The @Home Campaign has two main parts. The first half is to finish production on a film that not only tells Mark’s story, but also tells the stories he has gathered over the years. The second half is to develop a smartphone game that will help battle apathy, and raise awareness of homelessness in your hometown. Mark’s goal is to raise $100,000 by May 17. As of this writing, he is at $12,767.
“Making an ask” online can be tricky for anyone, and any cause. People are short on time, short on money, and you know they are getting bombarded with “asks” from tons of other people, too. However, this “ask” is really important not just because it is a great way to help combat the serious problem of homelessness in our society, but also because someone who has spent years giving without question wants just this one thing from us.
The math is pretty simple. If we could get 1,000 people to donate about $85, Mark would reach his goal.
If we could get 2,000 people to donate about $40, Mark would reach his goal.
Or maybe we could get 3,000 people to donate $30 each. That’s a pretty easy number, isn’t it? Maybe forego a week of Starbucks, and you’re there.
Spread the Word
Even if you can’t donate money, it would be great if you could share the campaign page, which is here. Maybe you will reach someone who just happens to have $87,000 lying around. You never know. Social Media can be terribly quirky.
Can you share Mark’s campaign? Can you help him reach his May 17th goal? I find his work inspiring. I think you will, too.