Harnessing the power of social media to help the Venice homeless.
by Melanie Camp
You only have to walk along the Venice Boardwalk, or drive past Rose and 3rd Ave., to recognize not everyone in the neighborhood will celebrate holidays, warm and safe.
This holiday season the Venice Neighborhood Council’s (VNC) Homeless Committee are taking steps to reunite those living on the streets of Venice with family and loved ones.
Using Miracle Messages, the Committee hopes to harness the power of social media to help the Venice homeless get in touch with family with whom they’ve lost contact.
Teaming up with local non-profits, Safe Place for Youth (S.P.Y) and St Joseph’s, along with 50 volunteers, the VNC Homeless Committee will spend five days from Tuesday, November 29th through Saturday, December 4th reaching out to those homeless in Venice.
The idea is, to film video messages from people on the streets and share them on social media. “I read an article about Miracle Messages executing this campaign in San Francisco, and I was struck by the simplicity of it,” says Will Hawkins. Hawkins is President of the Venice Neighborhood Council’s (VNC) Homeless Committee.
Over the past 2-years, Miracle Messages has managed to connect 90% of people with family members. Resulting in a 40% hit rate, getting people off the street, and back home by using this method.
“What’s great about this program is that it doesn’t cost taxpayers anything. It’s completely financed by donations from patrons. Additionally, there is no cost for housing or services because the individuals are reconnected with their families and go back home to live with them. So it’s a win, win, win all around. The individual gets off the streets, the taxpayer gets some relief, and the family is reunited helping that person get back on track in getting their life together,” says Hawkins.
The 5-day Miracle Messages drive will end with Venice’s 1st Annual Home for the Holidays Benefit concert. There will be performances by Maia Sharp, David Poe, and special guest performances by Kim Michalowski. Even Hawkins is planning a set.
All proceeds will help fund the first-ever Miracle Messages Homeless Reunification Program in Venice. Money raised will cover the cost of the plane, train, or bus tickets needed to get people home to their families.
Hawkins says there are two ways Venice neighbors can help make the drive a success.
“You can volunteer and help out with the street team canvassing the streets. Either, promoting the program, or back in the office where the videos are being produced, researching and contacting the families and facilitating the reunions. Another way is to attend the Home for the Holidays Benefit Concert on December 4th at Safe Place for Youth to help finance the program.”
Anyone interested in getting involved can email Hawkins at firstname.lastname@example.org.