Tag Archives: invisible-people

How Does One Man Open Our Eyes and Minds?

This is a guest post written by my assistant, Kat. While all opinions are her own, I wholeheartedly agree with every word she writes. Mark Horvath is an amazing individual and the work he continues to do on behalf of homeless people inspires us all.

One of the things I did to help plan Gnomedex 2009 was to be the main point of contact for our speakers. I got to know each of them a bit prior to ever actually meeting them and had a good time learning about their lives and the awesome things they were going to bring to our stage. I learned of Mark Horvath and his work with homeless people from an email Chris sent to me, asking me to add him to our roster.

I had never heard of the Invisible People movement at that point. Reading and learning from the website, I was drawn in by the work that Mark is doing. After I shot off a quick email to welcome him to the team, Mark called me unexpectedly. It was a “drive day” for him – he was in the midst of his first US tour, talking to homeless people. He wanted to connect in a more real way than email would ever allow.

Connect is the only word to describe what happened that day.

Mark and I have become close friends in the time since that phone call. I cannot think of a single person I have ever – in my entire life – been more proud to call my friend. This man inspires me to not only help homeless people… but to be a better ME. After immersing myself in ways I could help bring a voice to homeless people, I began to look at other ways I could make changes in my life. My self-improvement journey is not complete, nor will it ever be. There are always ways in which we could be a little better, after all. On the days that I feel as though I cannot continue along my chosen path, I look to Mark. He doesn’t give up, no matter how difficult his day may be. He pushes himself beyond what he feels is possible, so that he can accomplish what most of us used to view as impossible… bringing a voice and face to homeless people.

I cannot begin to capture the essence of my friend in a simple blog post. I’m not even going to try. I simply want to ask a favor of each and every one of you. I want you to go and read just one story on the website. If what you read does not move you to action and tears, nothing in this life ever will. Once you have done this, I beg you to find just ten dollars in your budget to support Mark and his cause by purchasing the book released today by Kevin Hendricks.

Open Our Eyes: Seeing the Invisible People of Homelessness is Mark’s story, and the story of the thousands of people across this country he is working to help. Every penny of the proceeds goes to Invisible People to help Mark continue his fabulous work. Kevin was kind enough to send me an advance copy. I have now read it four times in just a few days… and I cry each time. It moves me that deeply and inspires me to push myself even harder to help others.

To my friend Mark – I love ya, dude. If everyone had just one tenth of the compassion, integrity and dedication that you possess the world would be a much better place. You continue to inspire me and to make me laugh just when I feel I cannot find humor anymore in life. Your quiet strength has helped me through a lot of turmoil in the time we have known each other. Your guidance has helped me to make the right choices in my life and your singing voice mails continue to bring a smile to my face on the most difficult of days. Keep on keepin’ on, Mark. You know we are ALL always here to support you and bring a smile to your face when you need it most.

We Are Visible Brings New Voices to Homeless People

A year ago, many lives were forever changed after hearing Mark Horvath speak on the Gnomedex stage. Mark is the founder of Invisible People, and the man responsible for bringing a voice to homeless individuals everywhere. Mark is not only out on the streets helping connect people with services. He isn’t simply spreading the word about the problem. He is changing the perceptions that we have had for years – one story at a time. By giving homeless people a voice, Mark is changing the world – one person at a time.

Horvath – better known as @hardlynormal on various social media outlets – is quick to point out that this story is not about him. He will be the first to tell you that this is about them – the people he works tirelessly to help. He is simply an advocate… a mouthpiece, of sorts. While that is true, the man himself deserves much respect, admiration and support for what he is doing. This is why I am so excited about his newest venture. This is something I can totally throw my weight behind – and I encourage all of you to do so, as well.

Mark’s venture is named as it is for a reason. Homeless people often are invisible to the rest of us. We’ve trained ourselves to not see them as we walk by. We don’t want to know their stories. Too often, we automatically assume that they got where they are due to drugs, alcohol or laziness. Even though my assistant Kat has long been a friend of – and loud advocate for – Mark, she didn’t truly understand until she had a small experience while here in Seattle for Gnomedex last month. She was standing outside with a few other attendees during one of the after-parties. A homeless man walked up and asked if he could bum a smoke from them. Without thinking twice, Kat pulled out hers and handed a few of them to the man with a smile. He went still for a moment, and then an enormous smile broke out on his face. The man said, and I quote her directly: Thank you for seeing me, ma’am. No one ever SEES me out here. Those words shook her to the core. She and my brother Adam went on to have a half-hour conversation with this gentleman, learning about his story and his life.

THIS is why Mark does what he does. Homeless people shouldn’t be voiceless and faceless any more than the rest of the population. Even if they did get into their situation due to mistakes they’ve made, they still deserve the resources and compassion to help them dig their way back out. This is what We Are Visible is all about.

We’ve seen the power of social media in countless ways. We KNOW what kind of an impact it can have. Think back to Drew’s fight against Cancer, or to the earthquake in Haiti. We made a difference – a BIG difference. People pay attention to social media. Things happen because of social media. Mark recognizes this, and hopes to harness that power to help connect homeless people to the resources they desperately need to change their situations – and their lives.

@Project5050 sums it up best when she says: “It’s time to pull the tape off the mouths of those who truly understand struggle in America, and hand them the microphone of social media.”

How can you help? It’s simple, my friends. Join the Facebook page. Follow the movement on Twitter. Use the hashtag #wearevisible to help spread the word. As more homeless people find their way to social media platforms, they will need all of you to show them the way around. Help connect them to the resources who are also hanging out in your online communities. Learn their stories and become their friend. Change the world – one story and one person at a time.