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THE MAGAZINE OF MOBILE LOAVES & FISHES

Nashville: “Everyone

wanted

to help” A PLACE OF OUR OWN

yes, social media helps

you can’t sit there

this is EASy street?

We’ve learned what’s more important than a home

in downtown austin, sitting on the sidewalk is a crime FALL 2010 ISSUE

how to use your facebook page for good

danny & maggie’s journey didn’t end after the billboard


CONTENTS

16 Cover

Nashville, Rescued

How the worst flood in Nashville’s history brought out the best in Nashvillians.

Features

28 . . . A  Place of Our Own

MLF’s new plan redefines the meaning of home.

38 . . . How Facebook Helps

Small actions on social media can make a big

SHARE THIS WITH ISSUU Click SHARE in the ISSUU toolbar above to share 12 Baskets online.

difference.

Advocate

MLF Now

06 . . . E  verything I Own 10 . . . Students Map

44 . . . M  ississippi’s Voice 48 . . . Where Are Danny &

12 . . . Update: The Sit-Lie

53 . . . M  LF Report 58 . . . Letter from Alan Graham

Homelessness

Maggie?

Ordinance

03


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Hello. LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

by . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . CHANTAL RICE

she didn’t expect to live a long life and how she had no intention of

getting off the streets anytime soon. Stories like Rain’s are why

This is absolutely the kind of job

organizations like Mobile Loaves

subject in particular – Rain, the

every day to reach the homeless

you take home with you. One story homeless teenager I interviewed for our “Everything I Own” article

in this issue – touched my heart so

& Fishes exist, why they work

and provide some token of help to show that someone cares.

If you’re reading this magazine,

deeply.

chances are you already help us

The Congregational Church of

invite you to take the next step:

Sitting on the steps in front of

Austin, Rain was shy about talking with a magazine reporter, but she

also exuded a self confidence that few 19-year-olds possess.

She told me about leaving home,

help people like Rain. Now we

Send it to a friend. All of us can do something to help Rain remember that there are things worth caring about. Thanks.

living on the streets and traveling

Use the “Share” link in the Issuu toolbar to share this magazine

with her friends throughout the

country. She told me matter-of-

factly how she didn’t care for many things in this world anymore, how

05


06


When youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re homeless, you have to carry everything

with you all the time. On this balmy, overcast Wednesday afternoon in Austin, just off Guadalupe Street near the

University of Texas, homeless teenagers gather on the steps in front of The Congregational Church of Austin, the street

outreach headquarters for the nonprofit LifeWorks. A striking 19-year-old girl carrying a yellow backpack stands out from

the bunch. Sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s been homeless for about six months, but on her own since the age of 15. She calls herself Rain, and, as if

on cue, the clouds let go a few sprinkles as she leans down to open her beat-up backpack to show us everything she owns.

ADVOCATE by . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Chantal Rice photography by . . . . . . . . . . Jessica Attie

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Please share this story

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Rain’s bag is crammed mostly with clothes – overalls,

sweatshirts, a pair of flip-flops someone gave her, a hat. Also

inside: a bottle of perfume from her Fort Worth home, a tattered purse that was given to her as a birthday gift, a ticket from Austin police for violating the city’s Sit/Lie Ordinance.

Since she had to pawn her camera, little else among her

belongings is important to her. “Now I could lose the whole bag and it would be OK,” she says. But seems attached to a spiral notebook containing her pen drawings.

“I guess I just like drawing, so I’ll probably hang on to this

book for a while.”

Helping teens on the street Each year more than 10,000 people walk through the doors of LifeWorks in Austin looking for safety, security and opportunity. With a core mission to support and guide young people who age out of foster care, run away from home or become teen parents, LifeWorks offers housing support as well as programs in counseling and literacy. Learn more about LifeWorks.

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ADVOCATE by . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MONICA M. WILLIAMS

Maps

Making maps in a writing class? UT-Austin Professor Alice Batt immerses students in homelessness issues.


s Tell the Story Professor Alice Batt of the

University of Texas-Austin had been

looking for a more experiential way to teach students about homelessness when she realized Google Maps, a free online mapping tool, was the

perfect vehicle. The tool allows users

to place points on an online map and save the map they created as a webpage.

The students, who had signed up to

learn more about writing, didn’t exactly

See the maps: Google “resources for homeless Austin TX” • Resources for Homeless Pet Owners • Resources for Homeless Students in Austin • Free Public Computer Access in Austin • Free Flu Shots at Community Care Locations

map can tell a story as well

or better than a typical writing assignment.

While it may change the

understand the assignment at first. “Maps

way students think about

asked to produce, and certainly not in a

the way they think about

aren’t something most of them have been writing class,” Batt says.

She asked students to come up with a

question they have about homelessness,

research it and then create a Google Map to tell the story.

For many of the maps, students hit

the streets, researching on foot to find

locations of free or cheap resources like computer access, restrooms and health care. Soon the students realize that a

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writing, it also changes

homelessness. “Once they

make their maps, downtown becomes not just a political center or entertainment

center,” says Batt. “It’s also a place where people struggle to survive.”

Please share this story


No Rest for theWe

Homeless advocates and civic groups deb The “Sit/Lie Ordinance” prohibits

order to help alleviate the issue.

down in the right of way (including public

exemptions now.

sleeping outdoors and sitting or lying sidewalks) within Austin’s downtown

The city’s considering these

In the meantime, hundreds

business district. There are exemptions;

of Austin’s homeless — people

emergencies or those confined to a

sidewalks, often due to a disability

for example, it doesn’t apply to medical wheelchair.

Homeless advocacy group House the

Homeless claims the ordinance violates the Americans With Disabilities Act; it

prone to sitting or lying on the

— receive thousands of violations from Austin Police, to the tune of $128 to $158 per ticket.

believes that more medical exemptions

How does this make sense?

sitting areas added to downtown in

the ordinance helps Austin

need to be considered and more public

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According to the city council,


ADVOCATE by . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Chantal Rice

Weary

bate Austin’s ‘Sit/Lie Ordinance’ “encourage and preserve a

House the Homeless, this would include

core,” “promote tourism” and

on crutches waiting for a bus and anyone

vital, pedestrian-friendly urban “preserve the quality of urban life and protect citizens from

pregnant people, elderly people, people

else who decided to sit on a city sidewalk.

intimidating behavior.”

UPDATE ON THE ORDINANCE

believe people who sit or lie

whether to consider other medical

City representatives also

in the pedestrian right of way

“contribute to a sense of fear, intimidation and disorder.”

And because the ordinance lacks a number of other

suggested exemptions from

The city has gone back and forth on exemptions. In April 2010, House the

Homeless presented a survey to the city

that showed that 241 of the 501 homeless people interviewed in the downtown area had health conditions severe enough to keep them from working, ranging from

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MORE INFORMATION • Map of Downtown Enforcement Area • “Should the Disabled Homeless Be Fined for Sitting Down?” • Write to Austin City Council

degenerative nerve disease

exemptions should be made. Furthermore,

cancer. The city manager was

adding more benches downtown.

to chronic back pain to bone open to consider possible

the subcommittee did not recommend As of this writing, however, the

medical exemptions — if

medical exemptions are back on the

proving their disability. House

stakeholders and homeless advocates

the person had documents

the Homeless also asked the city to look in to adding more benches downtown.

In July, staff from the city’s

Public Health and Human Services Subcommittee

recommended to the council that no additional medical

table. The city council, downtown

continue to debate the legality of the

ordinance. In the meantime, downtown

continues to attract more homeless with

several homeless-services organizations located within the Sit-Lie Ordinance enforcement area, including The

Salvation Army, Caritas and the cityowned homeless shelter.

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“Poverty and homelessnes disaster. I have to continu How do we focus on povert an everyday emergency?” TALLU SCHUYLER, MLF Nash 16


ss is a daily ually ask: ty like itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s

hville 17


W

ON THE COVER by . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . LINDA BRYANT photography by . . . . . . . . . MLF NASHVILLE

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Weathering THE STORM Two days and nights of relentless rain

pounded Nashville the first weekend in May,

turning the city and region into a major flooddisaster area. It was the worst catastrophe in Music City USA since the Civil War, and one of the costliest non-hurricane-related

disasters in United States history. But the

disaster also led hundreds of Nashvillians to donate their time to the local Mobile Loaves & Fishes ministry, providing MLF Nashville the volunteer power it needed to make miracles happen.

For some time, Ann Carter, a retired

administrative assistant in Nashville, had

been searching for a cause; something close to her heart, something that would positively affect the lives of others while enriching her own. Carter found the answer to her quest after a weekend of savage storms caused the Cumberland River to crest its banks

and flood the streets and neighborhoods of Nashville.

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Weathering THE STORM


It was then that Carter sought

ravaged K.R. Harrington Water Treatment

Nashville ministry of MLF, and

threatened the city’s water supply and

out the newly established

volunteered to help however she could. She pitched in

Plant. The closure of the plant seriously caused four weeks of water rationing.

“There was this incredible feeling in the

every day at MLF Nashville for

air,” Davis says. “Everyone wanted to feel

she says, transformed her

It raised awareness tremendously about

two weeks. The experience,

from someone who was sitting on the sidelines to a fully

a part of things. Everyone wanted to help. MLF.”

Twenty-six hundred people were left

committed MLF volunteer.

temporarily homeless and thousands were

something to do that would

people drowned and at least 2,000 homes

“I had been looking for

help others,” Carter says.

“The flood gave it to me. It

totally changed my heart. I

found something I can actually believe in. I haven’t got a lot

of money, but I can give in this way.”

Kathy Davis, another

evacuated because of the flooding. Nine were destroyed or damaged. Damages totaled almost $2 billion. Many of the

city’s iconic landmarks – the Grand Ole

Opry, the Country Music Hall of Fame, the

honky-tonks of downtown Nashville – were ravaged and forced to close for several weeks or longer.

In the midst of this merciless backdrop,

first-time volunteer, led the

MLF Nashville sprang to life with a massive

day to 120 city workers who

volunteers showed up, prepared to jump in

effort to feed three meals a were working around the

clock to repair the city’s flood-

humanitarian effort. More than 1,400

and help with everything from boiling eggs to cleaning refrigerators to driving trucks.

“Everyone wanted to feel a part of things. Everyone wanted to help.”

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More than 19,000 meals were prepared and served in three weeks.

“This flood ignited a fire

in a lot of people,” says Tallu Schuyler, MLF Nashville’s

executive director. “Some of

our volunteers were working 60, 70 hours a week. There was so much visibility, so

trapped by water, and whole sections of the city turned into murky, unsanitary lakes.

The chronically homeless were even

more fragile. Tent City, a homeless camp

near downtown Nashville, was completely washed away by floodwaters. The streets of downtown Nashville, also a refuge for the homeless, were water-covered for several days.

Now that the initial shock of the flood

many new faces. It was a

has passed, Schuyler is challenged with

and love.”

new volunteers to serve the chronically

huge outpouring of support The flood forced many

Nashvillians unexpectedly and helplessly together:

rich, middle class and poor; American and immigrant;

keeping the momentum going and inspiring homeless with the same passion and commitment they poured out to flood

victims. She admits it’s a harder task than attracting volunteers during the flood. “Poverty and homelessness is a

homeless and prosperous;

daily disaster,” Schuyler says. “I have

Hundreds were instantly

poverty like it’s an everyday emergency?”

Christian and non-Christian. homeless. Some were

to continually ask: How do we focus on MLF Nashville recently started a

trapped on the top floors of

community garden project with the goal

Drivers and passengers found

about fresh food, good nutrition and self-

their homes without food.

themselves submerged and

of helping the homeless learn more

sufficiency. Schuyler thinks the garden is

“There was so much visibility, so many new faces. It was a huge outpouring of support and love.”

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Weathering THE STORM

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“A lot of people don’t want the home downtown, and if you feed them, they

Weathering THE STORM

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eless near y’ll be there.”

VIDEO: See how MLF Nashvlle volunteers responded to the flood.

one way to engage a whole new tribe of

volunteers, as well as maintain those like Davis, who first volunteered during the flood.

Kevin Barbieux, a formerly homeless

Nashvillian who lives in housing for the chronically homeless served by MLF

Nashville, says the group’s efforts are always welcomed by the homeless,

particularly in areas near downtown

Nashville, where the city has enacted strict rules for food distribution.

“A lot of people don’t want the

homeless near downtown, and if you

feed them, they’ll be there. The nice thing about Mobile Loaves & Fishes is that

they seem like an official, go-by-the-rules group. Their vans are official, so they are going to get the food where it needs to

go,” says Barbieux, adding that he likes the idea of a community garden. “It’s

like the story about teaching a man to

fish instead of just giving him a fish. It’s sounds like an investment with a lot of returns.”

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Excerpt from Tallu Schuyler’s blog post during the Nashville flooding:

In this situation of crisis and disaster, I am thinking about what it means to be a neighbor. Disasters blow the facades off buildings and expose the faces of those who lived in them. Disasters

expose not only what our neighbors look like in the physical, but also expose what their needs and fears and hopes are in the midst of crises. With all the stories of those who’ve been displaced by the flood, particularly those living on the streets, I am also reminded

that poverty and hunger in a country of plenty is a daily disaster, a daily emergency – the kind that rarely saturates the news channels and newspapers. Please share this story

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Weathering THE STORM


â&#x20AC;&#x153;The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.â&#x20AC;? Maya Angelou

A Place o Our 28


of Own What makes your house your home?

Is it your belongings, the familiar possessions you feel you couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t live without? Is it loved ones who welcome you with open arms? We know

that a home is more than the structure of the place, but when we long for home, we long for acceptance â&#x20AC;&#x201D; a place where we can be ourselves. COMMUNITY FIRST! by . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . CHANTAL RICE

photography courtesy . . . . . . . MLF austin

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After all, to be homeless is to be isolated, set apart to drift on your own. That’s why when Mobile Loaves & Fishes decided to

address the root cause of chronic homelessness, it identified the missing element from each homeless person’s life — a network of poeple who care.

MLF’s new initiative hopes to break the cycle of chronic

homelessness. Coined Community First!, this initiative includes permanent, supportive housing, as well as renewal programs

and social services. CF! evolved from MLF’s Habitat on Wheels program, a change that speaks to the idea that just a meal, just a roof over someone’s head is not enough; without addressing the reason why a person became homeless, the cycle will

never be broken. Therefore, community, friendship, support and renewal services – the whole package – are the keys to curing homelessness, according to MLF.

The initial goal of CF! is to get the chronically homeless off

the streets by providing them with recreational-vehicle housing

A Place of Our Own

and the support they need to improve their circumstances. But providing housing is not the only solution, so CF! also offers a supportive community dedicated to putting clients on the road toward positive changes and a new sense of purpose.

The program focuses on developing a community that

provides a warm, comfortable and permanent place to live for

those who have struggled with homelessness, offers access to social services and encourages neighborly interaction among

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“A secure place to live with dignity

and a support structure to help address the root cause of homelessness will

change the lives of so many chronically homeless people,” says Alan Graham,

CEO of MLF. “We have seen it happen

“Community First! in Austin will set the example and will radically transform the nation’s approach to homelessness.” Alan Graham residents. And as an initiative born out of Judeo-Christian

principles, CF! emphasizes love, respect, dignity, abundance and

and know that it will happen again

and again. Community First! in Austin will set the example and will radically transform the nation’s approach to homelessness.”

Community First! is spearheaded

by MLF, but the housing village in

particular is meant to be a collaborative effort. That’s why MLF will reach out

to other nonprofit organizations such

as Catholic Charities of Central Texas, Front Steps, the New Life Institute,

LifeWorks and Caritas; government

acceptance – ideals meant to

instill confidence and self-worth

in the homeless population while also stabilizing and engaging

them in meaningful activity and meeting their basic needs.

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Educate yourself on the real issues of homelessness, and what it means to be homeless. www.mlfnow.org

A Place of Our Own

How to help:

Become a Guardian Befriender. (See page 37.) If youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re interested, send a note to info@mlfnow.org Let Austin City Council members know that you support Community First!

bodies including the city, county and

Donate to MLF www.mlfnow.org

Rio Grande Legal Aid; and members

Volunteer. There are many opportunities in Austin and the other MLF locations. Smile, wave, roll down your window when you see a homeless person on the street. Carry bottled water and packaged snacks in your car to hand out. Learn more about Community First!

state; social services groups such

as House the Homeless and Texas

of the housing industry such as the

Real Estate Council of Austin and RV

campground owners and associations.

While MLF has already successfully

housed more than 50 families

and individuals in 45 RVs at 6 RV

communities in and near Austin, part

of the evolving CF! initiative is a large RV and camping-cottage village that

has the capacity to house many more families and individuals, all in one

neighborhood. That tract of land will include 100 pads, each capable of

accommodating one single-occupancy RV or site-built park home. An

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laundromat, a work center with Internet access, a tool bank, an onsite food pantry, life-

skills classes and even a jobs

program, among other amenities and services.

While the village seems

a win-win for Austin and the

homeless community, one of the biggest questions posed

to MLF is that of cost. MLF is

footing the bill for the program additional area will be designed for 50

single-occupancy permanent camping

cottages. According to the MLF business plan for the village, amenities and

services will go â&#x20AC;&#x153;far beyond the sterile,

impersonal and sometimes rude service

provided to the homeless in shelters and soup kitchens across the nation,â&#x20AC;? and

will instead be a place where residents

with help from a broad spectrum of stakeholders and its $5

million capital campaign, but

thanks to the relatively low cost of RVs, site-built park homes and camping cottages, the

community can be developed at a fraction of the cost of

traditional housing initiatives.

are welcomed and given the tools to

create a better future for themselves

and their families. Planned amenities

and services include a spiritual center, a community center, gardens, a

This is not a hand out; all Community First! village inhabitants must have some source of income and are required to pay rent.

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• affordable • sustainable • safe • low cost/high density/green • offers residents dignified homes in a community infused with respect and hospitality • makes residents part of the solution, rather than part of the problem • empowers residents with village governance • instills confidence and self-worth in the homeless population • creates community and reduces the epidemic of loneliness • reduces sidewalk congregating and panhandling, making Austin more hospitable • centralizes clients for easier communication, referral and access to services • enables the community to serve the needs of the homeless

A Place of Our Own

Strengths of the Community First! model:

And MLF makes it abundantly clear that this is not a hand out; all CF!

village inhabitants (indeed all formerly homeless residents housed by MLF)

must have some source of income and are required to pay rent. It’s a model that has worked well for those who

already inhabit MLF’s existing RVs (the success rate exceeds 85 percent). One of the overall goals of CF!

is to provide a successful model that other cities can follow to combat the problem of chronic homelessness.

But great plans are often wrought with

great obstacles, and the CF! village has certainly faced its share of difficulties,

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among them the “not in my

if we are serious about addressing

of land in the Austin area that

supplements housing-first fundamentals

backyard” issue. Locating a plot is capable of accommodating the vision and is welcomed

homelessness in Austin. This program with vital wraparound services to

ensure we are not just putting a BandAid on a truly complex issue.”

by neighbors is an ongoing process. Thankfully, many

Though the CF! initiative may

Austin City Council members

still have many hurdles ahead of it,

recently passed a resolution

formidable mission. “A homeless

are supportive of the village and instructing city staff to find a suitable tract of land for it.

“It is very clear to me that

we cannot begin to solve the incredibly nuanced issues

that cause and contribute to

homelessness in our community through our current model of

MLF organizers are resolute in their person,” the business plan reads, “can best focus on the cause of his or her

homelessness if his or her basic human needs are being met including a sense

of being placed – a connection, loyalty,

affection, identity, ownership, a location, a home, a community.”

service delivery,” says Austin

Mayor Pro Tem Mike Martinez. “We must begin looking to

Please share this story

new and innovative ideas

Community First! will offer three home types to accommodate a variety of income levels.

Cost to build... site-built park homes $14,000 RVs $12,000 camping cottages $2,500

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Cost for resident... site-built park homes $375/mo RVs $325/month camping cottages $100/month


Inside the village The KarpophoreĹ? Project Participants in this project are inhabitants of the village, volunteers and experts from the gardening community. The goal is to produce a local, organic and sustainable food supply for inhabitants and to utilize key partnerships across the city. Literacy Impacts the Future Today (LIFT) This is an adult reading remediation program designed to improve the literacy of homeless adults, which has a direct impact on employment and the economy. The goal of this effort is to establish a formal program that benefits the village population by increasing their selfconfidence and decreasing their reliance on socialassistance programs.

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A Place of Our Own

Guardian Befrienders This is the spiritual core of the program that makes Mobile Loaves & Fishes unique. A Befriender is a person who helps both the currently homeless and formerly homeless person with some of the basic needs of everyday life, and in time, hopefully builds a mutual friendship. Guardian Befrienders donate a few hours each month to serve as assistant case managers or as supportive friends. The objective of supportive friendship is to integrate those in need in to families and the community, providing much-needed structure and mentoring. For instance, a Befriender might help with grocery shopping; coordinate with MLF to deliver important papers or groceries; help with errands and trips to the bank and medical appointments; go out for a cup of coffee to visit; be a source of positive encouragement to someone who likely has little or no family or community connection; go to church together on Sundays; share meals in each otherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s homes; or serve as the executor of a medical power of attorney. Know someone who needs help? If you think you or someone you know around Austin may qualify for an RV or other form of housing, please contact us to learn more.

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are you a facebook philanthro

Mobile Loaves & Fishes wherever you are, MLF is Nonprofits are grabbing social media by the horns. The online sites and tools offer a low-cost, low-effort means for them to

stream information to anyone

SOCIAL MEDIA by . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MONICA M. WILLIAMS

who chooses to follow them.

But while they’re posting away about their next fundraiser or

Social Media is Community

success story, why should you listen?

The act of “liking” or

“following” a nonprofit on

social media can be an act of philanthropy itself, some say, ARMANDO RAYO Cultural Strategies “Social media is kind of like our more traditional ways to interact — church, neighborhoods, and professional groups. Now we can build relationships online.”

BEN GADDIS T3 “Think about what it used to take to tell 900 of your friends about something you care about. Social media takes away that barrier of sharing.”

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because as who you follow

is public information, in effect you’re letting the world know

you care about certain causes. At the next level, sharing a

post or a Tweet from one of those organizations can be

viewed as an act of advocacy;

you’re helping that nonprofit by promoting its cause.


opist?

s is on Facebook. And Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube ... s. That’s good and well for MLF, but what’s in it for you? “Sites like Facebook and Twitter are about sharing

information and opportunity,” says Ben Gaddis, a marketing executive for T3, an Austin-based advertising agency.

“Information you can use to be an advocate for your cause and an opportunity to act on your support.”

The more you know about the nonprofit you give to, the better. Social media can keep you in the loop about the charities you support. Further, when you act on a request from a nonprofit via

social media — by donating or signing up to volunteer or

even voting ­— you are engaging in acts of philanthropy. As

more nonprofits face budget shortfalls and limited resources, the value of utlizing social media tools becomes obvious.

Some nonprofits, however, are elevating social media to new levels.

The Billboard

For the most part, Mobile Loaves & Fishes has employed social networking to keep supporters in the loop about

its work. This past April, however, MLF and T3 embarked on a major campaign to raise awareness about the plight of homeless people and encourage their support. The

39


are you a facebook philanthropist? campaign called “I Am Here” put a homeless man, Danny Silver,

on a billboard, literally. The idea was to have people who saw Silver use their cell phones to text and donate. When

enough donations were made, MLF would use the money to

purchase an RV for Silver and his wife.

The campaign was a great

Social Media is Connecting

success, but not just on the fundraising front. According

to Gaddis, who managed the campaign, the project was

shared across all social media

channels, with people using the DAVE NEFF Ridgewood “It’s absolutely a great, low-cost way for nonprofits to connect with more people. The potential for spreading information is incredible.”

HEATHER STROUT Farland Group “With social media, it become quickly apparent which nonprofits are most effective in addressing immediate crisis. I know that my money will reach those in need if I donate to the right nonprofit.”

#iamhere tag to spread the word about the plight of Danny Silver. “Even with some of my own

friends, it only took one post on

our Facebook page, and people were excited about the project,” says Gaddis.

“It’s totally empowering for

people to use this information

in ways that let them share it on

their networks,” says David Neff, a social media expert for Austinbased Ridgewood. “It allows

anyone to speak up for a cause.”

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Connect with MLF As an advocate for homeless people

in Austin, Blythe Plunkett uses information from nonprofits like MLF as a tool. “I’ve learned through my own postings that people want to help, but don’t always

know how to. When they see what you’re

working on or how they can help, they are more likely to participate.

“People are so busy these days,”

says Plunkett, “If the information is

readily available as to how they can help, your chances of getting them to help are greater.”

Yes, You Are Helping

Unlike traditional advertising, social media costs next to nothing to implement. But there is a science to it, says Heather Strout, community services director for Farland Group of Cambridge,

Massachusetts. While the low cost means there’s lots of opportunity, she warns that

nonprofits shouldn’t get in over their heads with social media. “Just be sure you’re not cutting off contact to your stakeholders. A nonprofit wouldn’t want to start a

communication plan, create dialogue with people, then go silent.”

Nonprofits should also take note of

the types of information they’re posting.

The best posts, says Armando Rayo, a

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In February 2010, Twitter users were sending 50 million Tweets per day. In July 2010, Facebook surpassed 500,000 users. More video was uploaded to YouTube in the last two months than all of the programming from ABC, NBC and CBS combined. Watch this video about the growth of online and social media.


are you a facebook philanthropist? marketing expert for Cultural

Strategies in Austin, are those that encourage readers to

comment or share with a friend.

“Anybody can ‘like’ a post,” says Rayo, “but it’s the interactions that are the key. I like a lot of

pages, but only the ones that

stay relevant to my interest give

me what I want and what I need.” Plunkett, for example, found

Social Media is Advocating

Please share this story

that her regular Likes, re-Tweets

BLYTHE PLUNKETT, Homeless Coach “I do think it’s valuable to be able to ‘like’ and follow a nonprofit on social networking sites. The basic value, I believe, is publicity and visibility.”

and shares of information about homelessness helped her enlist

more of her friends to her cause. “I’ve had people ask to go out

to the homeless camps with me after they’ve seen my posts,”

she says. “I think they’d been

too nervous to try it on their own. But it’s easier for people to want to explore what their friends

might be doing than to contact

Read more about Danny Silver and the I AM HERE campaign.

a nonprofit on their own and ask how they can get involved.” And even if that doesn’t

bring in another donation, it still helps the nonprofit accomplish

its goal to get more people, like you, involved.

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MLF story: the voice of Mississippi

A former TV and radio pro self-destructs, then, thanks to MLF, puts his life back on track â&#x20AC;&#x201D; just in time for a second chance.

MLF NOW by . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MONICA M. WILLIAMS photography by . . . . . . EMILY KINSOLVING

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From the time he finished Jackson State University, was married, and working in TV and radio as a

professional in Illinois, to the time he divorced, moved to

Texas and was selling cars and drugs, Sherman Stiffic has had that smooth, mellifluous voice.

It’s deeper than Morgan Freeman’s, less stilted than

James Earl Jones’, but just as sharp and dripping with

gravitas. So when Rob Hutton, president of the Central

Texas division of DR Horton, heard that voice, he knew it was something special.

Hutton hadn’t invited Stiffic, better known as Mississippi,

to his home for his voice; he’d invited him over to hear his

46


story. After he served some time for selling

to be some way to use this

life back. Though he was homeless, he

positive career direction.”

drugs, Mississippi had begun to get his

was attending Church Under the Bridge,

talent and put him back in a So he encouraged

working whenever he could find it, and

Mississippi to audition for the

Alan Graham of MLF that he was serious

loved him. “They could tell

had saved up enough money to convince about finding a permanent home.

Mississippi had, in fact, become a model

citizen of the RV community, and he often spoke to people about his journey from self-destruction to self-improvement.

spots — and the ad agency

when I entered that studio that

I knew what I was doing,” says Mississippi. “We just worked hard and got it done.”

The commercials aired

during the Memorial Day

“They rolled out the red carpet for me. If I can keep this up and sign some contracts, that would make me happy.” Sherman Stifflic Hutton is an executive at one of the

country’s largest homebuilders, but he’s also a magnanimous philanthropist. He and his wife fund and operate a

scholarship program, and he’d invited Mississippi to share his story with the

student recipients. It just so happened that Hutton met Mississippi right around the

weekend throughout South Central Texas, and for DR Horton they were a great

success. But for Mississippi, it

was a chance to get his old life

back. “I was listed as the talent of the day,” he remembers.

“They rolled out the red carpet for me. If I can keep this up

and sign some contracts, that would make me happy.

“What I’ve learned is, the

good Lord has a way to bring you back.”

time DR Horton was looking for a voice for its new radio commercials.

“I loved his story,” says Hutton. “And I

loved his voice. And I thought there’s got

47

Please share this story


EASY STREET? 48


Y ?

MLF NOW by . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . TRACY MUELLER

portraits by . . . . . . . . . MATT RAINWATERS

addt’l photo courtesy . . . . . . . . MLF austin

MLF STORY: They’ve been called worthless, disgusting, irresponsible, pathetic, garbage and ungrateful by anonymous online commenters. They’ve filed for a restraining order against a former neighbor who hurled obscenities and trash at their faces. They’ve stared down death when she was diagnosed with a potentially fatal disease. Seems like happily ever after will have to wait a little longer.

49


In May, homeless Austinites Danny Silver and Maggie Post

moved into a home of their own for the first time in 15 years. As

the centerpiece of Mobile Loaves & Fishes’ “I Am Here” campaign, Danny stood atop a billboard along Interstate 35, asking people to text $10 donations to help raise money to get him and Maggie off the streets.

“I Am Here” raised $13,730, enough to buy a mobile home for

the couple, with a bit left over for other expenses. The campaign — and Danny and Maggie’s story — made national headlines,

including mentions on CNN, the

Huffington Post and USA Today.

The housewarming party was

perfect. About 60 friends and

volunteers, along with a few news camera crews, welcomed Danny

SOMEONE ELSE’S SECOND CHANCE Mobile Loaves & Fishes owns the mobile home purchased with the “I Am Here” campaign proceeds, and the organization is working to find another family to live there.

and Maggie to their new

home. With white siding, a front porch and gleaming

appliances, it was a world apart from the tent they

previously shared in the woods of

North Austin. Danny’s daughter Brittany, whom he had not seen in

years, even flew in from North Carolina to surprise him. As father

and daughter enjoyed their reunion, Maggie marveled at her new

surroundings, delighting in the small markers of a home — pictures What are they up to now? Watch an interview with Danny & Maggie

on the wall, a kitchen drawer filled with dishtowels.

Volunteers helped the couple with a budget based on Maggie’s

disability checks. They researched an affordable mobile phone

plan to help them establish a connection to the outside world. With

a newly solid foundation in place, Danny and Maggie were set to Please share this story

finally embark on the road to recovery. But sometimes that journey can be just as difficult as the life left behind.

50


Danny and Maggie were given the secondchance of a lifetime, but within a few weeks, they were right back where they started. How could this happen? Once the fanfare died down,

Danny and Maggie began to

feel lonesome for their former community. Still unable to get jobs, the couple gravitated

back to their old friends and

panhandling corner, back to drinking. They were evicted

from the mobile home park for

intoxication and leaving their dog

turnaround is especially difficult when

addiction is involved, as is the case with Danny and Maggie. “We’re all imperfect and have something that’s holding us

back. It’s just at different magnitudes for different people.”

So what’s next for this struggling,

embattled couple?

Maggie was recently diagnosed with

cirrhosis, a potentially fatal liver disease brought on by years of alcohol abuse.

Confronted with this reality, Danny and Maggie both quit drinking. MLF moved them to an RV – their new permanent

home where they pay rent, just as with their initial mobile home – and built a ramp for Maggie’s wheelchair. Their

house at the mobile home park will go to another family desperate to get off the streets.

Now that Danny is sober and has a

outside off the leash too many

permanent address, maybe he can get

given the second-chance of a

some work. Or maybe not. They might

times. Danny and Maggie were lifetime, but within a few weeks,

they were right back where they

started. How could this happen?

an ID. Maybe if he gets an ID he can find fall again. Regardless of what happens, the support will continue.

“We believe there’s redemption for all

“It’s very difficult for the

humans out there,” Graham says. “If we

whole philosophy and style

the woods dying. It could be that the first

homeless to change their

of life overnight,” says MLF’s Tricia Graham, adding that a

hadn’t helped them, she could be out in couple of times they don’t make it. But maybe on the third time, they do.”

51


Go us a bou G ta vid re e eo an n! nu al Talk to

r po e r

t.

We love working with people who are making the world a better place! Web development Social media Video Awareness & fundraising campaigns

708A S. LAMAR BLVD., AUSTIN TX 78704 512.637.6333 RIDGEWOODPR.COM

00


MLF REPORT: NEWS FROM our ministries

watch for our holiday mailing: You can provide a wonderful holiday meal for our homeless and working poor neighbors. Return your meal vouchers by mail or donate online now: mlf.org/voucher

by VICKY GARZA

CAPTION HEADER MLFâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Alan Graham, far left, with Saint Paulâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s United Methodist Church, including Pastor Ken MacMilen, second from right.

New bedford gets 19th TRUCK

Mobile Loaves & Fishes president Alan Graham recently made the 2,000mile drive from Austin to New Bedford, Mass., to hand-deliver the 19th

catering truck to the newest MLF community. You can now find the silver refrigerated delivery trucks in eight U.S. cities.

53


MLF REPORT: NEWS FROM our ministries Austin News: Austin, which serves as MLF headquarters, just planted its 11th local truck in partnership with

Hat Creek Burgers, a locally owned and operated restaurant. MLF HQ is also proud to announce its new website, which launched in September.

Needs: Opting for a more intimate way to raise awareness and funds, MLF Austin has replaced

the annual wine tasting gala â&#x20AC;&#x201C; its main fundraiser

â&#x20AC;&#x201C; with smaller fundraising parties in private homes. Hosts are needed to provide the space and the list of invited guests. MLF Austin coordinates a

casual dinner, a concert by a recognizable Austin performer and a client who can speak about their personal success.

This time of year, the MLF Austin affiliates accept

donations of extra Halloween candy to hand out

from the trucks as a treat, as well as bottled water. To help, contact Anna-Marie Phelps

54


Learn more at www.mlfnow.org Get more news from the affiliates, find out about new programs and volunteer opportunities, and donate.

Minneapolis News: MLF Minneapolis has been in operation for more than a year now,

serving four to five days a week and distributing more than 100 meals a

day. Its affiliated church recently held a sock and toiletries drive – items that have been flying off the truck – at an outdoor service, while the ON THE STREETS IN MINNEAPOLIS Kids line up for a free meal in the evenings; volunteers from Knox Presbyterian keep the truck stocked with fresh food.

MLF refrigerator truck provided cold water and lemonade. The

program was recently featured in an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, which has generated

much interest in the organization outside of the parish.

Needs: The affiliate is still looking for additional sites to distribute food and supplies to lower income residents. Organizers are also interested in

learning about “best practices” for handling the upcoming winter.

To help, contact Karen Waldron

55


MLF REPORT: NEWS FROM ACROSS THE COUNTRY New Orleans News: MLF New Orleans feeds not only those in need, but

volunteers who are still pouring

in to New Orleans to help rebuild the city. Initiated after Hurricane Katrina, the affiliate spent the summer break refocusing its

program and selecting a new

program director. The affiliate will begin starting runs again

on September 13 with the help of a small grant received from

the United Way of Greater New Orleans.

Needs: The affiliate is actively seeking new volunteers and

agencies with which to partner. To help, contact Alice Wright

Please share this story

56


see mlf in action on youtube Watch, comment, share and subscribe to get the newest videos of our mission at work. www.mlfnow.org

Nashville News: MLF Nashville has seen a large influx of volunteers, welcoming more than 900 new

faces and serving more than 19,000 meals in

the aftermath of the city’s flooding in May. Tallu YOUNG PEOPLE STEP UP Nashville youth volunteer at an urban farm, with crops going to stock MLF trucks.

Schuyler, program director, has kept busy preparing for an upcoming open house, a volunteer barbecue and a bluegrass “hootenanny.” The summer provided no respite for MLF Nashville, as the

organization hosted a summer youth program for middle-schoolers from an East Nashville housing project. Needs: MLF Nashville is in need of a used van, truck or SUV. Currently, volunteers are

using their personal cars to pick up and deliver

food. The affiliate also hopes to secure funding to cultivate five acres of donated green space, located in a low-income neighborhood in

Nashville, to create an urban farm that will employ at-risk youth.

To help, contact Marie Cloniger

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Rebuilding the family There is a pandemic of homelessness by . . . . . ALAN GRAHAM, president, Mobile Loaves & Fishes

in the United States — a culture of

displacement — unlike at any time in our

history. And while there’s no simple fix, the

reason is so obvious that most of us choose to look past it. In fact, whenever I speak to

people about homelessness, the question I

get asked most often is, “What is the single

greatest cause of homelessness?” I always answer the same way: “Loss of family.”

Most of us have families that are dealing

with the same issues that exacerbate

homelessness: problems around mental and physical health, lack of education, addiction, loss of living wage jobs, lack of affordable housing, lack of health care, etc. In fact,

my mother suffered profoundly from mental illness and one of my brothers suffers both from mental illness and addiction.

58


Yet for some reason these

members of our family don’t find

themselves homeless. Homeless no, dysfunctional yes. But we’ve stuck it out as a family. And as a

working with much success in

many places around the country,

but we know that a home is more than a place to live.

That’s why we’ve developed

community.

Community First!, a program

“What is the single greatest cause of homelessness?” I always answer the same way: “Loss of family.”

of the Housing First model;

Right now, cities across the

country utilize a Housing First

that builds on the foundation

Community First! takes it a step further by looking at community

as the extended arm of the family. Although we cannot recreate a

person’s real family, we can foster

a network of people and support to create a functional community that can feel like family.

Tell us what you think. You can

approach to homelessness, a

read in more detail about our

problem of homelessness by

been having online. Thank you

model that aims to solve the getting people in a house or

apartment as quickly as possible.

This Housing First model has been

vision and the success we have for your continued support to our mission.

Blessings!

HOW DO WE SOLVE HOMELESSNESS? I believe the answers to this question are tackled superbly in the groundbreaking book Beyond Homelessness, Christian Faith in a Culture of Displacement by Steven Bouma-Prediger and Brian Walsh. Their observations do not lend themselves to a “quick fix.” In fact, the book articulated and affirmed my instincts about how to solve homelessness, and it fueled our creation of the Community First! model. If you’d like to support their work, please GET THE BOOK HERE.

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FALL 2010 Editor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Chantal Rice

Art Director . . . . . . . . . . . . Torquil Dewar

Contributors . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jessica Attie

Linda Bryant

Vicky Garza

Tracy Mueller

Matt Rainwaters

Publisher . . . . . . . . . . Monica M. Williams Ad Index

Hat Creek Burger Co . . . . . . . . . . . . 02

Capital Area Food Bank of Texas . . . 04 Seeds for Change Consulting, LLC . . 14

Give Realty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 Ridgewood . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60

“What I’ve learned is, the good Lord has a way to bring you back.” Sherman Stifflic

12 Baskets magazine  

Fall 2010 issue

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