SOURCE: InvisiblePeople.tv; WeAreVisible.com
September 13, 2010 15:54 ET
WeAreVisible.com Launched to Empower Homeless People Via Social Media
NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - September 13, 2010) - InvisiblePeople.tv -- the nationally-recognized nonprofit that fights homelessness using the power of social media -- has launched the WeAreVisible.com social media literacy website to help homeless people learn how to use the Internet to tell their stories, build community and connect with support services.
WeAreVisible.com's mission is to give people dealing with poverty and homelessness the tools they need to get online and have a voice. The site teaches them how to sign up for email, open a Twitter account, join Facebook, create a blog and, in general, take advantage of the benefits of online social media. It also has the potential to become a model for virtual case management as it helps build a community among homeless people and support service providers.
WeAreVisible.com is a complement to the InvisiblePeople.tv video blog (vlog), which was launched in 2008 to make the "invisible people" in society more visible. Together, the two sites offer homeless people a unique opportunity to take part in the Internet revolution.
"Thanks to YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites, consumers have unprecedented power to speak out and affect meaningful change," said Mark Horvath, who founded InvisiblePeople.tv in 2008 after his own bout with homelessness. "But people dealing with homelessness haven't had such a voice... until now. WeAreVisible.com is determined to help them get heard through social media literacy."
Horvath is currently reaching out to public libraries across the U.S. to inform homeless people about the new WeAreVisible.com site.
"While many homeless people frequent public libraries and have access to the Internet, they need help learning how to use social media," he added. "WeAreVisible.com is designed to make it easy for them to connect with one another, tell their stories and find support services."
Horvath noted that a small but growing number of homeless people are already using sites like Twitter and Facebook to connect and help one another. WeAreVisible.com will help those who are less tech-savvy take advantage of the powerful tools that the rest of society increasingly takes for granted. Horvath added, "The general public is all too familiar with homeless people who carry cardboard signs, but they seldom hear from the 'invisible' homeless struggling to rebuild their lives."
The site is designed to load on just about any computer, and includes video and written tutorials. The "Why Social Media" page features personal stories from homeless people discussing how social media has already impacted their lives.
"Social media is transforming how people from all walks of life communicate," Horvath concluded. "The homeless have been among the last to benefit... but we're determined to change that!"
Horvath is currently on the last leg of a nationwide road trip dedicated to helping homeless individuals and families in 28 cities tell their stories using online social media. Armed with a hand-held video camera, laptop computer and smartphone, he is posting unedited reports from the road trip on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites, as well as on www.InvisiblePeople.tv.
About InvsiblePeople.tv and WeAreVisible.com
InvisiblePeople.tv is a grassroots 501(c)3 nonprofit founded in 2008 by advocate Mark Horvath (@hardlynormal on Twitter) to fight poverty and homelessness using the power of online social media. The organization launched WeAreVisible.com in September 2010 as a resource to educate homeless people and help them get online to tell their stories and connect with support services. Both InvisiblePeople.tv and WeAreVisible.com are primarily self-funded, with support from a $50,000 grant from the Pepsi Refresh Challenge.
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 he launched InvisiblePeople.tv with just $45 and a budding interest in online social media. In November 2009, Mark was named "one of the top activists to follow on Twitter" by the Huffington Post. More information about InvisiblePeople.tv and WeAreVisible.com is available at: