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Wednesday
Sep152010

Don't Ignore the Invisible People

Mark Horvath is on a mission; he is an advocate for the homeless and has been travelling around the country for the past two years sharing the stories of homeless people and giving them a voice. Mark knows what he’s talking about, he lived on the streets in L.A.

My husband, Andy Davis, talking with Mark Horvath of InvisiblePeople.tv.

Mark visited Detroit this week and I had the opportunity to meet him and hear him speak at a Social Media Club Detroit event at the Friendship Circle. He talked openly about the issues the homeless face on a daily basis and how they ended up on the streets, living under a bridge or in a box.

  • Do you know someone who has lost his or her job in the last few years? Someone who has been unemployed and not able to find work for over a year?
  • Are any of your friends or family behind on their mortgage or underwater on their house?
  • Do you know someone who doesn’t have health insurance? Would a major illness or accident cause them huge amounts of debt?

I seriously doubt that anyone in metro Detroit can answer no to all of the above questions.

And, you do know someone who doesn’t have health insurance. ME. My husband and I haven’t had health insurance since we left the UK and the National Health Service that they provide.

Any of the circumstances that I laid out above can land you or someone you know in the precarious position of losing their house and living in their car or on the streets.

On his website, Mark says,

“Please always remember, the homeless people you’ll ignore today were much like you not so long ago.”

 

Beth's Story from TakePart on Vimeo.

 

Mark used to work in television distribution with a six-figure salary. He ended up living in a park. Powerful stuff.

So, what can we, as individuals, do to help? Mark says the key is housing, jobs, and health services.

He explained that you should treat the homeless just as you would treat anyone else. If you were walking down the street would you ignore me? Would you avert your eyes and pretend that I wasn’t there? If I spoke to you, would you walk on by, would you ignore me?

Then don’t ignore them. They are not invisible.

Mark told us about a conversation he had with a friend. The friend tried to give a loaf of bread to a homeless person and they didn’t want it. “Sometimes they need a toothbrush,” Mark said.

This little story spoke to me. On Sunday, I was in downtown Birmingham and had just picked up a loaf of bread from Panera. As I walked south on Old Woodward I saw an older woman, obviously homeless. She was sitting against the wall somewhere between Starbucks and Forte. She looked to be asleep and her shoes were off like she was airing out her feet and giving her cankles a rest.

I know what you’re thinking, a homeless woman in Birmingham, Michigan? Surely that can’t be.

But she was there.

I thought about giving her my humungous loaf of three-cheese bread but I didn’t want to wake her. I didn’t want to make waves.

I’m kind of glad she was sleeping; maybe she wanted or needed a toothbrush and not my fancy bread.

Because of Mark, I want to know her story. I want to know if I can help. I can’t stop thinking about her.

Next time, I’ll know what to do. I won’t walk on by and I won’t avert my eyes. I won’t assume what she needs, I’ll ask.

Please check out InvisiblePeople.tv and WeAreVisible.com, which Mark just launched to let the homeless tell their own stories. Follow Mark on twitter at @hardlynormal.

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  • Response
    Response: write my essay
    Only person who lived once same life can understand those people and only a person who lived homeless life knows exactly what kind of help those people need and how strong is their need in helping hand.

Reader Comments (2)

Great post, Becks. You really captured the essence of Mark's presentation and his mission. Thanks.

September 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSteve Frank

Thanks Steve! It was great to see you again at the event.

September 15, 2010 | Registered CommenterBecks Davis

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