09/18/2012 09:26 am ET Updated Nov 18, 2012

How Social Media Can Help the Homeless

The first thing out of Babette Pepaj's mouth is how inspired she is by Mark Horvath:

As soon as he realized that most homeless people still have access -- they have cell phones or can visit local libraries -- he immediately harnessed social media, which is free, in the most creative ways imaginable.

His own homelessness contributed to Horvath's awakening -- he's been on the streets twice -- but it was this insight that inspired him to found, a nonprofit that helps fight poverty and homelessness using social media tools. The video-rich site comes with a warning: "Some content may be offensive. Our hope is you'll get mad enough to do something."

And Babette knows whereof she speaks. She's CEO and founder of, a community of people who like to bake and cook. This month, she and a bunch of social media gurus have banded together to create The Social Cookbook (published via BakeSpace's new digital publishing platform, Cookbook Café), with all of the proceeds going to

An all-star list of influencers have contributed their favorite recipes to The Social Cookbook, including:

• Chris Brogan, author (#1 on Forbes Top 50 Social Media Influencers) submitted "Poor Man's Shepherd's Pie"

• Liz Strauss, CEO and founder, SOBCon (a HuffPost Top 10 Influencer), shared "Grilled Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich"

• Claire Diaz-Ortiz, manager of social innovation, Twitter, shared her take on the perennial favorite, "Sugar Cookies"

I asked Claire Diaz-Ortiz if she agreed with Babette Pepaj's assessment of Mark Horvath's creativity.

Mark has found a way to put Twitter into the hands of beneficiaries, teaching that the power of digital communication to transform lives doesn't need to come from organizations -- it can come from the individual.

I'm going to download a copy and bake Claire's "Sugar Cookies" while blasting Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe." Or maybe I'll pull up the singer's favorite homage to her global hit single, the one recorded by Sesame Street's Cookie Monster, "Share It Maybe."

And while I do, I'll be thinking of Mark Horvath, who summed it up perfectly: "I love it that this cookbook brings together some of the most visible and invisible people." Amen to that.