I had left a cup full of pens on the sidewalk as I loaded my car. A guy came along and asked for a pen. He looked hard on his luck and he quite possibly had no home so I said yes.
Admittedly, it was a small thing. But Mark Horvath taught me that small things matter when it comes to helping people experiencing homelessness. He had inspired me to bring socks to give to San Francisco’s people without a home when we attended a conference there. I chose to give mine to a shelter to distribute but Mark was out there giving them to individuals. He knows first hand that new socks are a luxury that make life on the streets better.
Mark Horvath is special not because he once experienced homelessness himself and now helps others who are living on the streets, living out of shelters or have no regular place to call home. Mark Horvath is special because he treats people who have literally hit rock bottom as people. They have a name and a story and he helps to tell them.
By doing so, Horvath puts a face on what is normally a nameless, faceless statistic on the people that we so frequently give little if any thought to as we pass them on the streets. He hopes that he can help people connect as people to the folks who call the streets home or who can’t afford their own place to live. He hopes that connection makes us mad enough that we do something to help these folks.
In short, he is making invisible people visible.
Mark Horvath uses the power of social media to shine a spotlight on the problem of homelessness across Canada and the United States and around the world. He shares stories on Invisiblepeople.tv such as Thomas in New York City.
England’s homeless crisis attracts attention of invisiblepeople.tv
Horvath reached out on Twitter for some public relations help and I responded. I am proud to have written the first draft of a news release to announce his trip to tell the stories of England’s crisis of homelessness in the days leading up to London hosting the Olympic games. Here’s my version that remained largely intact after being polished and issued by an English firm. Here’s the final version.
Mark Horvath of Invisiblepeople.tv will turn his video camera and the power of social media on the problems associated with the rapid rise in homelessness in England during a 10-day trip starting July 2. Horvath is an internationally recognized advocate for people experiencing homelessness. His tour starts with two days in Chippenham then shifts is attention to London for eight days. The trip occurs just before London hosts the Olympic—an occasion when host cities try to make it appear that they do not have anyone living on the streets.
“Cuts to hostels and housing services have taken a significant human toll,” said Horvath. “As a result a shocking number of people now call the streets home. The crisis is much worse though since many more people who are sleeping on couches at a friend’s place, spending time in a hostel when they used to have a permanent place to live or who live on the streets but have not been counted.”
“I plan to put a human face on the crisis,” said Horvath. “As I have done across the United States and Canada, I want to give the people forced onto the streets in England a chance to tell their stories. I hope to inspire action to help the people who are invisible statistics that are easy to ignore. We need to know the human story to get mad enough to inspire change.”
Since its launch in November 2008, InvisiblePeople.tv has leveraged the power of video and the massive reach of social media to share the compelling, gritty, and unfiltered stories of homeless people. The vlog (video blog) gets up close and personal with veterans, mothers, children, layoff victims and others who have been forced onto the streets by a variety of circumstances. Each week, they are on InvisiblePeople.tv, and high traffic sites such as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, proving to a global audience that while they may often be ignored, they are far from invisible.
Mark Horvath (on the road)
About Mark Horvath
InvisiblePeople.tv is a grassroots nonprofit founded in 2008 by advocate Mark Horvath (@hardlynormal on Twitter). The organization is primarily self-funded, along with a $50,000 grant from the Pepsi Refresh Challenge in 2010. After building a successful career in television syndication, Mark found himself homeless in 1995 following a battle with addiction. He worked hard to clean up his act, and was again living comfortably by 2007 with a three-bedroom house and a 780 credit score. But then the recession hit. After several layoffs and a foreclosure, he was once again facing homelessness. That’s when Mark launched InvisiblePeople.tv with just $45 and a budding interest in online social media. In November 2009, he was named “one of the top activists to follow on Twitter” by the Huffington Post. Because of his work with InvisiblePeople.tv, Horvath has been featured by the L.A. Times, CNN, CBS, CBC, Mashable.com, PBS and NPR. He’s spoken at a number of conferences and events, including Geneva Forum on Social Change, Blog World, U.S Department of State’s Tech@State, Gnomedex, 140 Conference – The State of Now, Nonprofit Technology Conference and SxSW