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Marin Homeless and Precarious Faces Project

Tory Burke is the first of hopefully many people that will be helped through the Marin Homeless and Precarious Faces Project
Tory Burke is the first of hopefully many people that will be helped through the Marin Homeless and Precarious Faces Project

In early December I saw a picture of my homeless childhood friend Kelso on Facebook who is currently living in the downtown streets of San Rafael. It prompted me to seek him out and offer him assistance. I’ve tried to be there for him, and along the way I have written the first draft of a book about the experience of helping the homeless. 

I know Kelso appreciates my presence even if it’s just to offer him friendship and a connection with the past. At this point he may never want or be able to do what it will take to come indoors, but at least I’ll know I’ve tried. One of the guys who was hanging out in the same park as Kelso and I struck up a friendship, and serendipitously in the short time I’ve known him I was able to help him get indoors. If you’ve been following my blogs online you may have read about Steve (Steve Needs a Job, published 1/17/14 on San Rafael Patch.com).

This wasn’t the first time I’ve helped a homeless person get indoors, or helped someone avoid homelessness. You’d be surprised how easy it can be to offer some assistance to a homeless person, and how gratifying the experience can be. It’s especially easy when you pass the same homeless people every day, which was the case with the first homeless woman I helped in San Francisco. It took more time and effort in Brenda’s case, but I helped her get indoors as well (see San Rafael Patch.com from December 2011 for a three part column on the experience).

Recently I decided I wanted to take my efforts to assist the homeless to another level. Initially I visualized the creation of an online database that people could search for homeless people in Marin and hook up as mentors. Speaking with the project director of San Rafael’s Downtown Streets Team and he helped me realize that the mentorship role should involve a level of commitment that a lot of people aren’t necessarily prepared to make, and I didn’t want to turn anyone off any level of caring and assistance. Posting my experiences with friend Kelso had gotten an enormous amount of attention on Facebook, and I decided the best thing to do would be to launch a Facebook page for the Marin homeless and precariously housed. If you are a Facebook member please check ‘like’ my page: Marin Homeless and Precarious Faces Project.

My plan now is to take pictures of individual homeless people in San Rafael and share information about them. My hope is that either Facebook users who see the homeless people will be prompted to help them, or they will share the posts and somebody else they know will step forward and offer assistance. I’d love to see people doing great things for our homeless community on the page.

My friendship with Brenda started when I gave her a pair of used UGG boots as I was passing her on the way to work. My friendship with Steve started when I bought him a new bike tire, which he desperately needed. Kelso and I go back further than when he drove me to the hospital after a shoulder dislocation while surfing during Thanksgiving break at Ocean Beach.

The next time you pass a homeless person on the streets of Marin please consider doing something nice and sharing the act on the Facebook page.

Care, share and create goodness.

After making my first post on the Marin Homeless and Precarious Faces Project page about Southern Marin native Tory Burke, I was contacted by three old friends, and I put them in touch with Tory to give her the help she desperately needs right now to avoid homelessness.    

I’m hoping to help more people in need this year. Please like this blog and share it on Facebook to spread the good word. And I would LOVE to see people set up these type of pages/projects in their own cities! The world is a better place when we care for people in need.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Andy Falk February 15, 2014 at 02:25 PM
https://www.facebook.com/MarinHomelessFaces should get you there. Thanks for checking it out!
Alissa Ralston February 15, 2014 at 06:15 PM
Have you connected with Paul Gaffney of the Interfaith Street Chaplaincy or any of the groups that are currently hosting REST --the rotating emergency shelter? They are currently working to try and develop a permanent shelter that will also offer social services. There are many people who have been working on this issue for a long time.
Andy Falk February 15, 2014 at 09:07 PM
Thanks for the suggestion Alissa, I will definitely be talking with the REST people. There's a lot of people that rely on the REST program, and it's nice to know they are seeking a more permanent solution.
William Callahan February 17, 2014 at 02:33 PM
Andy, I know Kelso and have had a few short conversations with him. I'm the founder and interim director of an emerging not-profit organization next to St Vincent dePaul's dining hall on B Street called OHIAS. OHIAS stands for Our Health Is At Stake (because the health of our planet is at stake). The mission of OHIAS is to end waste as we know it today by putting it to work, putting people to work, putting our community to work, putting our planet to work for the benefit of all people and planet. Our first project is to create a (Marin) Community Benefit Cooperative where (so called) waste and people will be put to work and transformed, benefiting all people and community. I'm looking for passionate people like yourself to help support our effort, helping all people in need like Kelso. OHIAS 816 B Street, San Rafael. www.ohias.org
Andy Falk February 17, 2014 at 03:21 PM
I'll look forward to stopping by. Thanks William!

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