Let's face it. The economy still sucks. Finding employment is far from easy, and finding employment that offers a living wage for a homeless mom to pay for housing and childcare is close to impossible. Oh, did I say 'homeless'?!! As much as we all want to think people have a heart to do good, and I do believe many do, the truth is it is rare for an employer to even consider hiring a homeless person.
If you haven't heard about Shaun Kings's new project Hope Mob you probably are not on social media. I think the world of Shaun. I know of no other person that is just a natural at building community. I have seen Hope Mob explode even before it was launched and I believe Hope Mob will continue to grow its influence to help people.
As many of you know Carey Fuller is a homeless mom who manages our We Are Visible community while living in a van near Seattle. I was first introduced to Carey by a post she anonymously wrote What It's Like To Be a Homeless Mother. I begged the editor to introduce me, which she did. I sent Carey an email but she didn't respond. She told me later she was hoping I would go away. At the time, she was not ready to go public about her homelessness. I helped her build a blog and showed her a few social media tricks. But the work and the growth was all hers. The first time I met Carey in person she joined me on stage in New York City for 140 Conference. This last year I was able to drive up and spend some time with Carey and her daughters. It was a life-changing experience for me. Not sure if I ever felt my heart hurt as much as the night I followed them to the place where they sleep at night.
Hope Mob is featuring Carey this week in the hopes of getting her three job interviews that would provide a living wage. I have been working with homeless people for a long time, but it was Carey who taught me about the issues of childcare for homeless families. Unfortunately, there are a lot of homeless families in the very same situation as Carey. We currently live in a country were minimum wage is not enough to pay for housing, much less cover a babysitter so you can go to that minimum wage job. Yesterday, a Seattle TV station drove to Carey and did a live interview. You can watch the powerful video here.
Since I met Carey I have been trying to help her best I can. She has gone to every job interview I have been able to arrange for her. I know behind the scenes she works hard to better her life and the life for her girls. When I first put her story on Huffington Post several people responded that Carey wanted to be homeless, saying that she could find the support needed. The week before I gave Carey a video camera and she documented system failures, and what it's like for a homeless mom to try and find help. Shortly after she made another video of trying to get childcare to go to a minimum wage job interview she would not be able to accept because the job would not pay enough for childcare. It's easy to judge Carey's life from a distance, but it's not so easy to be a homeless mom.
People who follow Carey see her tweeting about helping homeless youth. I will often get an email or text from people saying Carey needs to spend that time looking for a job. First, I know Carey does still look for work. Just because she's not sharing it on social media doesn't mean it doesn't happen. Plus, have you been unemployed and looked, and looked, and looked, and looked, and looked for work with no luck? I have. It's part of the reason Invisible People was started. I was at nineteen months of unemployment. I am a very assertive person so you can only imagine how many applications I filled out and interviews I had in that time. I could not fill out another application. I was going crazy with depression and instead of sitting on my couch crying I decided to go outside and start helping others. Over the last year or so Carey has filled her life by caring for her daughters first, and then doing whatever she can to help the other homeless people she meets.
More than anything I want Carey and her daughters in housing. More than anything I would love to see Carey find a job working with homeless youth because that is where her heart is. She is also good at writing, blogging and social media. A remote social media community manager job would give her an income while working from home reducing the need for childcare. Maybe someone could help Carey start a nonprofit called "Carey's Kids" so Carey can have more impact helping homeless youth. If it was a perfect world I wish I could hire Carey myself. But I work a job at a homeless shelter to pay for food and rent. I help Carey with her phone bill and others needs when I can. I often get frustrated that I cannot do more.
The reason I started Invisible People was to "make everyone known." People have been ignoring the issues of homelessness for far too long. I believe that once you know someone, and have a personal connection to their story, it's not so easy to walk on by. Will Shaun King and Hope Mob be able to get Carey a job and a place to stay? Well, homelessness is a complicated issue. It may not be that easy. But if anyone can do it YOU can, and YOU are the power of Hope Mob. Shaun committed to make Carey's life better and already that has happened. A lot more people know Carey now and that betters the chance of a real miracle happening. KIRO TV7's live interview with a homeless mom yesterday made history and did volumes to help break stereotypes of homelessness.
I am so grateful to Shaun for featuring a homeless mom. Homelessness is not sexy unless it's Thanksgiving. Shaun and the Hope Mob team rock for taking such a risk. If you are connected to Seattle's homeless services in any way, PLEASE HIRE CAREY as an outreach case manager. If you are connected to Seattle's social media and tech industry, please consider giving a homeless mom a chance. If you are looking for a social media community manager and that position can be remote, PLEASE HIRE CAREY. Anyone can learn social media tools, but not everyone can make people smile via social media like Carey can. One of the best things I have ever done was make her admin of our Facebook community. Carey is smart, responsible and teachable. If you know of any open position near Kent, Washington, that could pay enough for rent and childcare, Carey may be your next employee of the year.
Somehow, Carey will get housed. It is going to happen! With all the attention someone, somewhere has to be able to help! We must also remember there are many homeless families. We must continue to fight homelessness and poverty, especially at the local level. No man, woman or child should have to sleep without adequate housing! It is just unacceptable that anyone in this country not have enough income to afford housing! With your help we can change that -- one person and one family at a time!
THANK YOU Shaun King and everyone connected to Hope Mop. You are all my heroes!