2013 in Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,100 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Happy New Year to all!

See you out there

Andy

@canayjun on Twitter

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2011 in review from the Missionlog – Help the Homeless

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,900 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Social media activist – Mark Horvath – puts a face on Canadian homelessness.

For immediate release – press release: Calgary Homeless Foundation, Community Action Committee
(Toronto, ON; August 12) Heading into Toronto August 19 – 22, Cross-country Invisiblepeople.tv Roadtrip gains momentum as formerly homeless man & renowned social media activist, Mark Horvath, puts a face on Canadian homelessness.

Ever doubt the power of social media to make true change? Let us introduce you to Mark Horvath, Huffington Post blogger, @hardlynormal on Twitter and founder of invisiblepeople.tv. Mark puts power into the hands of Canada’s most vulnerable people: those experiencing homelessness. By giving individuals a voice, he is building awareness and support to end homelessness.

Mark, once homeless himself, understands the issue. He is midway through the Invisiblepeople.tv cross-Canada Roadtrip coordinated by The Community Action Committee (CAC) and the Calgary Homeless Foundation (CHF). Socially-responsible companies General Motors, Petro-Canada, Virgin Mobile Canada, Hanes and Delta Hotels are sponsoring Mark as he gathers and posts these real, raw and unforgettable stories on: http://www.invisiblepeople.tv with mainstream media networks demonstrating the value of his message.

 We’re exposing the un-natural disaster of homelessness in Canada through the personal stories of those experiencing it.” said Tim Richter, President and CEO of the CHF “As Canadians see their homeless neighbours through Mark’s lens, they are compelled to act and join the growing number of Canadian communities committed to ending homelessness.

“The power of social media is that we associate names, faces and stories with homeless individuals.” said Barry Davidson, Chair of the CAC. “Canadians are listening and communities are galvanizing to take action to end homelessness.”

Roadtrip Stops

City Date City Date
Victoria July 5-6 Regina August 5-6
Vancouver July 7-10 Winnipeg August 8-9
Kelowna July 12 Thunder Bay August 11
Calgary July 14-16 Sault Ste Marie August 13
Red Deer July 17 Toronto August 19-22
Edmonton July 18-19 Ottawa August 28-30
Whitehorse July 21-22 Montreal September 1-3
Yellowknife July 24-26 Fredericton September 5-6
Fort McMurray July 28 Halifax September 8-9,14
Edmonton July 30-31 St. John’s September 11-12
Saskatoon August 2-3

**dates subject to change. Visit http://www.calgaryhomeless.com/cac for the most up-to-date schedule.

How can you help?

  • Spread the word, post stories on Facebook and Twitter, try & gain as much attention as you can.
  • Welcome him to your city and provide him with a tour of where homeless people stay.
  • Speak to your media friends and help get the problem noticed.
  • Follow Mark’s journey on Twitter @hardlynormal.
  • Help build support for 10 Year Plans and the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness.

Contact: Sean French, Community Action Committee

sean@calgaryhomeless.com  Twitter – @seanfrench1

About Mark Horvath

Follow Mark’s journey on www.invisiblepeople.tv, a site that shares unedited, uncensored and raw interview footage. Go to www.wearevisible.com, a site that gives people dealing with poverty and homelessness the tools to go online and have a voice.  Follow his journey on Twitter @hardlynormal, with almost 13,000 followers. Mark was featured on CTV Canada AM, CBC Connect with Mark Kelley, The Roy Green Show, CNN, CBS, L.A. Times, Mashable.com and NPR. InvisiblePeople.tv has 2.5 million video views on Youtube alone with an average of 50,000 views per month.

10 Year Plan

From 1994 to 2006, Calgary had Canada’s fastest growing population of people experiencing homelessness, culminating with nearly 3,500 people sleeping in shelters. In 2007, the Calgary Committee to End Homelessness was formed to create a 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness. In January 2008, Calgary became the first city in Canada to have a Plan that committed the community to end homelessness. This tour supports the Calgary Homeless Foundation’s goal to create a Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness. To date over 2300 individuals have been housed with support.

The Community Action Committee

This Committee is the voice of community and works at the policy level, providing real-time information to coordinate the efforts of agencies, government and funders. With more than 100 member organizations that plan, deliver, evaluate and assess the services needed to end homelessness in Calgary, members work directly to help people at risk of or experiencing homelessness. For more information about the CAC or the invisible people Canadian road trip visit www.calgaryhomeless.com/cac.

 

Media inquiries, homeless serving agency inquiries and sponsorship inquiries can be directed to:

Sean FrenchCommunity Action Committeesean@calgaryhomeless.com@seanfrench1

This project is funded in part by the Government of Canada.

Social Media – Publishing on the Semantic Web with Small Rivers Paper.li

Day 26: Putting the Social Network to Work –

The job search continues.  Resumés are being fine tuned and sent out. Job search websites like Workopolis and Monster are being queried. Friends and family are being reminded to get the word out. Bushes are being beaten… you get the picture.

Those of you who have joined me here on the Missionlog blog have already heard how I’ve been using my online social network to assist with my job search. I’ve been punching up my Twitter and Facebook profiles and got some good buzz from improving my LinkedIn profile. As a matter of fact, the LinkedIn article  – The Value of a LinkedIn Recommendation – was broadcast (re-tweeted) several times on Twitter and also ended up in four online “Daily” newspapers from paper.li by Small Rivers.

It showed up on Canada Homeless & Poverty News from @CanadaVolunteer and quickly was re-published on more, extending my social media reach beyond what I would normally expect.

Your daily online paper from paper.li can be set up and published in just a couple of minutes, or you can spend some time to customize it if you wish. Basically the service scrapes articles found in links from your timeline in Twitter of people you follow, designated Twitter lists or even keyword and hashtag searches. It then retrieves the information and inserts it in a pre-formatted online publication and shows the Twitter name of the contributor (the person who tweeted the link).  You can name the paper as you wish. Mine is the Helping Hands Daily (be sure to check it out) and is gleaned from a custom list followed by or following @canayjun on Twitter –  Activists, volunteers, journalists and other good folks who just plain “get it” when it comes to issues of homelessness and poverty.

 

There are thousands of these paper.li dailies out there. I’ve just started publishing mine and will continue to work on it to improve it’s relevance and scope. The good folks at Small Rivers are continuing to develop the service to make it more useful to people who want to make their social network work. Hopefully it will help me get the word out to prospective employers who are making a difference in ending homelessness.

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The Value of a LinkedIn Recommendation – Social Media

or People Say the Nicest Things Department – Part II

Some of you have been following my recent job search efforts over on Twitter and Facebook et al. You can connect with me at Twitter.com/canayjun I’ve been making a concerted effort to improve the usual round of submitting resumes and cover letters to promising organizations, by using the various social networks and apps that I have access to. I figure that plain old networking has changed drastically in the last seven years (the last time I looked for a job) and realized that I’d built an effective  web of online social connections that should be put to work.

The Geocities logo of mission_log project417

In addition to 3,000+ Twitter followers, I’ve kept this WordPress blog up and it’s had more than fifty thousand page views since inception – and it is actually a continuation of my first blog over on the now departed Geocities Mission_log – where my first post was in 2004.  There’s also “a canayjun point of view” over on Blogger at http://canayjun.blogspot.com with more than fifteen thousand views. Just for fun I have also published a couple of other blogs, which I should really make more use of:  Restaurant at the End of the Internet, an End of the Internet and more. In addition to Facebook, (reserved for IRL friends and family) you can find me on Flickr, Google, YouTube,  Box.net and LinkedIn

On LinkedIn, I’ve been working on my professional profile and work history and was pleased to reach the point where it’s 100% completed, although there is still quite a bit of job history to add.  As I blogged last week, I’ve been using the LinkedIn feature to request recommendations from co-workers, colleagues and friends that are pertinent to my current job search. I’ve been bowled over by the response and humbled by the comments.  Just yesterday I received a recommendation from a former co-worker, Fred Chu, who works at Lucasfilm now as their Senior Texture Artist & Look Development. Fred was a huge help when he was in Toronto, assisting us with the Project417 outreach to the homeless – dependable, compassionate and someone who could be relied upon to be available and take the lead when we were short handed. here’s his recommendation in full:

Andy is a man of great character with incredible passion for social justice balanced by an equally wonderful soft spot for people in need. His commitment to his work was inspiring, his genuine heart for people was endearing and his easy smile was simply contagious. And regardless of how difficult & heart-breaking the work was, this man was always a beacon of positivity. I was truly blessed to have had the opportunity to work with him. Thank you for letting me tag along for the ride!” June 21, 2011

Cyril Frederick Chu, Matte Painter/Texture Painter/VFX Artist, Mr. X Inc.
reported to Andy at Project417 – Ekklesia

Thank-you Fred.  An eloquent recommendation. Which brings me to the point – just how valuable are recommendations on LinkedIn? In respect to my immediate job search that remains to be seen.  As you can gather from my LinkedIn profile, I’m currently seeking a position with a non-profit / charity organization that addresses the issue of homelessness. I think the recommendations offer a personal glimpse into the depths of my experience and the breadth of all I have to offer to many an organization. Unlike Workopolis or Monster.com and similar job search sites, I think LinkedIn has a formula here that truly exploits our comfort with social media that can impact our career choices positively. What do you think?

A team of dedicated volunteers

I don’t know about you, but if I was responsible for hiring a manager or director of a progressive homelessness service organization and read these recommendations, I’d sure want to talk to me. Come back and visit soon, I’ll be blogging about other ways I’m trying to use Twitter and the rest and we’ll see how it all turns out.

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Homeless, Why homeless?

Homelessness – not simply defined as “absolutely without shelter” or “the chronically homeless” – is a plague on our society, sapping the health of our communities.

homelessness homeless #whyhomeless

home-less


There’s been a hiatus here at the MissionLog as I’ve transitioned from a full time outreach worker to the homeless with Project417  back to a more traditional career as a phone guy in the telecommunications industry. Reasons?  Ask me offline – but at the core is a realization that volunteerism and community development is driven by ordinary people working ordinary jobs who have the desire, opportunity and ability to give back.  And I’m about as ordinary as they come. I’m tired of homeless friends who die without hope of ever having a home again.

I still have a vision:  to definitively identify the root cause of homelessness and find the cure.  Homelessness is not a poverty issue. It’s not simple economics, nor is it a self-inflicted wound.  It is complex. It is pervasive.

So I’m working towards that end by founding The Whyhomeless Movement – a grassroots campaign to really help the homeless. This can’t be left to governments. It’s our city, our community, our village.  Joining the WhyHomeless Movement is easy. Start by visiting Twitter and tweeting homelessness issues with the #whyhomeless hashtag. Search for people who are making a difference and tweet their story.  Tweet out and re-tweet links to sites on the web that make a difference in the lives of people who are experiencing homelessness.  Follow me at – http://twitter.com/canayjun and let me know you’ve joined the WhyHomeless Movement.

A Girl Named R

canayjun A friend recently told me that people who want to help the homeless are interested in reading more personal stories about those who are experiencing homelessness.  They didn’t know I’ve been posting stories about many of the homeless people we serve at Project417 for several years. It comes with the territory of being a small grassroots organization:  how do you get the word out about the challenges faced by people who are homeless?  If we tell their stories, how do we distribute them to the widest audience possible?  We can blog about them, share them on Facebook, Digg and Reddit and tweet links to the story on Twitter, but there is still no guarantee the information will reach people who have a heart to help.  Some are better at the storytelling than I.  I follow @invisiblepeople on Twitter. He’s travelling across America on his Road Trip USA, telling the stories of the homeless people he meets along the way.  See them at invisiblepeople.tv Me?  I just keep trying to get the word out by writing about my experiences with my homeless friends.  I’m re-blogging and expanding on this story – A Girl Named “R” –  because it is an example of the terrible circumstances that lead many young girls to end up homeless, living on the street.

I first wrote the story after a volunteer blogged about “R” at the CSMurbanupdate.blogspot.com site,  a place where students can describe their inner city volunteering experiences.  She wrote about her identified as “R” only to protect her identity.

I met her on the first afternoon we were there.  I looked down and realized she had prominent scars all over her arms…

It was particularily moving to me because of the young woman the student met – I’ve known “R” for years.  I first met “R” out on the street panhandling with several other homeless youth.  I soon got to know her better at a local Out of the Cold program for street youth.  “R” has been street involved and homeless since she was thirteen,  heading to Toronto to escape the tragedies that befell her in her hometown.  She has endured a youth no one should have to face,  and she bears scars in deeper places than just her arms.

I’ve celebrated birthdays and Christmas holidays with “R”, but she has no home to host her celebrations.  She often conceals the scars on her arms beneath long sleeves,  but even then,  once she gets to know you,  she will push up the sleeves to reveal her pain.  From her wrists to well past her inner elbow,  her arm is a patchwork of deep, parallel and crisscrossing scars,  the result of self-inflicted injury.  “R”‘s life on the streets is one of extreme ups and downs, not unlike many others who experience homelessness.  Sometimes she finds a place to share with friends or a partner,  but it never lasts and she is once again back on the streets.  Her life is ravaged by drugs and her drug of choice changes like the spinning of a roulette wheel.  Morphine,  oxycontin,  crystal meth and crack – they all have carved pieces out of her soul.

She has been in and out of jail,  first youth offender facilities,  and now adult jails and provincial correctional facilities for women.  She has been to well respected treatment and recovery centres.  When she inevitably returns to the city,  (and I have witnessed this now more than once),  “R” is a changed person.  She is clean – she is healthy – the glow is back on her face and her hair shines.  But it’s never more than a few days until she is dragged back under by the street life and the irresistable force exerted by the weight of her painful past.  It is terrible to watch this transformation over and over. On release from jail for example,  she is provided housing – the type of housing governments everywhere reserve for the chronically homeless,  recovering addicts and people with concurrent mental disorders.  Halfway houses they call them, or treatment centers or  “transitional housing”.  Almost all of them are located in the worst areas of inner city Toronto with drug dealers staking out street corners and visiting the houses  to lure back old customers. There are any number of crack houses within spitting distance.  The system always sends “R” right back to the very street that is trying to kill her.

more to life than this?

It is not just a lack of decent housing that causes “R” to fall back to the street. She has taken shelter with loving and caring volunteer families who have opened their homes and asked “R” to be part of the family while she recovered.  The pain runs too deep – her disorders inadequately treated – and “R” has to leave.  That would be a time when she cuts herself again.  She has told me,  “Andy, I just want to feel something.  When I cut myself, I can feel again for a little while, but the drugs…with them I can’t feel a thing…”.

I met a psychiatrist while I was working in New Orleans who works in Chicago’s inner city with troubled youth.  We spoke about “R”.  He told me the significance of scars due self-inflicted cuts:  it is a major indicator of the victims of childhood sexual abuse.  He told me that more than 90% of youth who suffer from “self harm or self-injury” are victims of childhood sexual assault and abuse.  The illness is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a symptom of borderline personality disorder and depressive disorders and described as,  “sometimes associated with mental illness, a history of trauma and abuse including emotional abuse and sexual abuse …”.  A study in 2003 found an extremely high prevalance of self-injury among 428 homeless and runaway youth (age 16 to 19) with 72% of males and 66% of females reporting a past history of self-mutilation.  [Tyler, Kimberly A., Les B. Whitbeck, Dan R. Hoyt, and Kurt D. Johnson (2003),  “Self Mutilation and Homeless Youth: The Role of Family Abuse, Street Experiences, and Mental Disorders”,  Journal of Research on Adolescence 13 (4): 457–474] .

In my recent post, What do you think is the root cause of homelessness? Part 4,  I wrote:  “A  study by Heather Larkin of the University of Albany – shows the link between Adverse Childhood Experiences – ACE – and homelessness.  From her study –

More than 85 percent of the homeless respondents reported having experienced at least one of 10 categories of adverse childhood experiences (ACE).  Many (52.4 percent) had experienced more than four categories of traumatic events when growing up. … There is a high ACE prevalence among the homeless people in this study.  Individuals with high ACE scores may be more vulnerable to economic downturns and cultural oppression,  a person-environment interaction increasing the likelihood of homelessness.  Service responses focused on identifying and addressing childhood traumas hold an opportunity for addressing ACEs before they contribute to homelessness.

I include this technical background because although “R” is now a young woman,  she has been on the street since she was a child in more than one Canadian city.  Many more people than our organization have become familiar with her.  This would have included coming to the “official” attention of the authorities both while she was a child and as an adult.  “R” is definitely “in” the system that is supposed to help her.  Why has everyone been so ineffective in helping her,  how has she remained homeless for so long?  As a teen, “R” was labeled by society as a “runaway” with all of the negative connotations that carries.  In effect, most people would write her off as the author of her own condition.  Far from it.  “R” is a victim.  She deserves better.  Hell,  dogs deserve better than “R” has been handed.

I met her once on a street corner in Toronto,  Spadina and Queen,  where she was panhandling.  She was in particularily bad shape that day,  very high from her drug of choice at the time,  which was making her slur her words almost to the point of incoherence and made her body twitch uncontrollably like a scarecrow on strings.  When I arrived,  she dragged herself up from the foot of the light pole she was leaning against and,  arms wide,  asked for the only thing she has ever requested of me – a hug.  Not the little, hihowareyou hugs we deliver in polite company, but a great big, bone crushing, head burying HUG.!  It always cheers her up.  Standing to one side were two semi-official looking people with those City of Toronto ID cards hanging around their necks.  One had flashes from a private security company on his shoulders.  He was “protection” for the other – a city worker carrying a clipboard.  They were part of a new task force set-up by the city of Toronto’s Streets 2 Homes program to reduce panhandling and homelessness.  They were trying to interview “R” by asking her a very long list of canned questions.  They seemed oblivious to her state,  as if she could be coherent while jonesin for the next fix.  After our hug,  she turned to them and said,  “I can’t talk to you now, Andy’s here.  He saved my life”.  After we talked for a while and I encouraged her to head for a woman’s shelter down the street,  I left and went into a store at the corner to buy her bottled water.  Her lips were cracked and bleeding she was so dehydrated.  As I brought it back to her,  the city social worker was back at it again, making little check marks on her clipboard survey.  How those little pen strokes were supposed to bring healing to “R”,  I’ll never know.  She certainly deserves better.  I still hear her saying, “he saved my life”,  in the small hours of the night when I can’t sleep,  thinking of the hopelessness faced by my homeless friends.  I hear it and know in my heart – I haven’t saved “R”.  She’s still lost and that hurts.  She recognizes and loves the people who love her back,  but why can’t we save her?

This not "R" - but my friend Crystal too faced homelessness and overcame.
This is not “R” – but my friend Crystal also faced homelessness and overcame it.

I wish I had a happy ending to the story of a girl named “R” to tell you.  But I don’t.  I’ve lost track of her in this patchwork quilt system that serves the homeless.  The last time I saw here,  she visited our Wednesday night community dinner in the Bloor Lansdowne neighborhood.  She was happy to have just got housed in a transitional home for women right across the street.  She showed me a small white bible in a lovely cedar box that she’d just received as a gift.  She was straight – she was clean – she was healthy – the glow was back on her face and her hair was shining.  She was smiling and,  before she left,  she offered up one more bone crunching hug.  The last I saw her she was walking up Bloor Street with purpose and hope.  Later that night,  she got into a fight with one of the other residents of the transitional home.  The police were called and “R” ran before they got there.  I’ve not seen her since.

If you want to help young girls like “R” overcome homelessness, contact me here, or at Project417.com

And join the #Whyhomeless Movement on Twitter. Connect with me @canayjun and send out tweets on homelessness issues with the hashtag #Whyhomeless.  Join us for our next meeting in Toronto – or start your own movement in your own neighborhood.  The root cause of homelessness is about more than just jobs and housing.  There is a brokenness in our communities that only your love can start to heal.

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