Yesterday, I was walking around handing out socks to homeless people in Venice Beach when I happened upon a small cluster of tents. I talked to a few of the people living there and told them that I would be back today with wipes. Often called "bath in a bag" or "shower in a bag," baby wipes are desperately needed on the streets.
Tonight while keeping my promise and handing out wipes I ran into an older woman who was trying to make a home for the night. Every morning at 6am, police come and make everyone tear down their tents. For the growing number of homeless seniors out on the streets, the daily existence living without a home is overwhelming.
I asked Michelle if she would like some wipes. She responded, "I'll take as many as you can give." I then asked her how she ended up homeless in Venice Beach. We sat down on the sidewalk together, and she started to share. Michelle's story is heartbreaking.
"I never asked to be homeless here in Venice. It just happened to me", Michelle starts her story. A friend talked her into moving to California after a bad divorce. Michelle had her own business grooming pets and boarding dogs. She lived on a farm with her ex-husband. Michelle continues "I got to where I thought I was better than anybody myself. Now, look at me."
At one point, Michelle turned to me and said she cannot continue. I kept recording by instinct. I asked Michelle about her most recent stroke six days ago, and she kept on talking. After, Michelle was okay that I didn't stop.
Michelle's purse was stollen with her identification. A friend helped buy a bus ticket. The first driver allowed her to get on the bus without ID. The second driver wasn't so flexible. They threw Michelle out on the streets of Downtown Los Angeles at 3:30 in the morning. This was her first time on L.A. and her first time homeless. Michelle met a few homeless people that took her to a safe place.
Michelle is determined to get herself off the streets and out of homelessness. Although she has health issues, she is a strong woman. She is doing everything in her power to better her life, but the truth is there are not enough resources for all the people who need our help. We need to change that. Everyone in Los Angeles County must work to end homelessness before more people die outside on the streets!
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Since its launch in November 2008, Invisible People has leveraged the power of video and the massive reach of social media to share the compelling, gritty, and unfiltered stories of homeless people from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. 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’re 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.
Invisible People goes beyond the rhetoric, statistics, political debates, and limitations of social services to examine poverty in America via a medium that audiences of all ages can understand, and can’t ignore. The vlog puts into context one of our nation’s most troubling and prevalent issues through personal stories captured by the lens of Mark Horvath – its founder – and brings into focus the pain, hardship and hopelessness that millions face each day. One story at a time, videos posted on InvisiblePeople.tv shatter the stereotypes of America’s homeless, force shifts in perception and deliver a call to action that is being answered by national brands, nonprofit organizations and everyday citizens now committed to opening their eyes and their hearts to those too often forgotten.
Invisible People is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the way we think about people experiencing homelessness.