This Incredible Social Start-Up Is Taking a Revolutionary Approach to Homelessness
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There is an innovative and inspiring social start-up that is taking a new approach to making a dent in homelessness, and it has been incredibly effective. Forty percent of people of reunions have led to stable housing or to living with family again.
The group is called Miracle Messages. Their approach is relatively simple: they reconnect homeless people with their loved ones using video messages and social media. Despite the simplicity of the approach, it is a revolutionary way to make a difference. Traditionally a lot of effort to help homeless people has been in the form of supportive housing, temporary shelter, and homeless services. Despite the traditional effort, the number of people experiencing homelessness has not changed substantially in decades.
Miracle Messages takes a different approach. They focus on the stories and the human connections. “Every person has a story, and everyone’s story matters,” is one of their mottos.
First, they record a “Miracle Message” from a homeless person. After recording the messages and completing an intake form, the Miracle Messages team works to locate loved one through social media, web searches and the white pages. When their family is located, the Miracle Messages team invites the family to send a response message.
Photo source: YouTube/Miracle Messages
So far, they have delivered 30 messages and have facilitated more than 15 reunions. Of those reunions, forty percent of the homeless people are no longer living on the streets. They are just getting started, though, and their work has the potential to touch a large scale of people. Their goal is to reunite 1% of the world’s homeless people by 2021, or 1 million people.
Homelessness is a huge issue worldwide, with 100 million people being homeless. In the United States alone, more than half a million people lived on the street on any given night in January, 2015., according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness.
What is also shocking is that most Americans are only one or two paychecks away from being homeless, and nearly half of Americans would have trouble finding $400 to pay for an emergency if it struck, according to the Atlantic.
Kevin Adler, the founder of Miracle Messages shares, “Many people who have problems, just like the rest of us,” he shared. “Some are mental illnesses; some are down on their luck, just divorced, missed [a] payment, bad accident, mounting health care costs, debts, mistakes, chances that just didn’t work out.” Kevin had a family member who experienced homelessness. His uncle Mark suffered from schizophrenia and lived on-and-off the street for 30 years. His uncle died 10 years ago, and after visiting his gravesite, Kevin wondered if there was anything he could do for the homeless people still on the streets.
Kevin started Miracle Messages with a walk down Market Street in San Francisco during the holidays. He asked people if they would like to record a message for a loved one. One of those people was a man named Jeffry. He made a video that was subsequently shared on social media and within an hour his sister was tagged to the video. Within weeks, his hometown raised $5000 for him, and within a month Jeffry was on the phone with his sister for the first time in 20 years. See all the videos of this story here.
Since that first walk, Miracle Message has connected more people. Michael hadn’t seen his mom in 10 years. In his video, he said, ““Mom, I miss you, and I love you, and I need to see you.” Perry hadn’t seen his kids in 19 years. He looked but he couldn’t find them. Tony hadn’t seen his Dad in years. Here are their stories and one powerful reunion.
Miracle Messages aims to have a big mission and is looking for support to make that mission possible. They would love recurring donations, which can be made via Patreon. They would also love volunteer support. To follow their work, check them out on Facebook and YouTube.