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Celebrities and Homelessness

Susan SarandonSomewhere over 630,000 Americans are living on the streets or in shelters, says the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Ordinary people are helping in a lot of ways. They donate to Project Night Night, which distributes blankets, stuffed animals, and bedtime story books. They help out with food and vet bills for the pets of people experiencing homelessness. Starting right here on this page, they sign petitions and donate thermal underwear.

Another thing that people with talent resources do is they help tell the stories. Video blogger Mark Horvath of Invisible People is only one example. A lot of people join organizations like U.S. Vets, which has helped thousands of veterans find housing and jobs.

And what do celebrities do? Some prominent people also adopt homeless veterans as their cause. A rap musician known as T.I. (Clifford Joseph Harris, Jr.) has launched a global campaign called “Give Like a King.” Ruth Manuel-Logan reported that, in conjunction with the Veterans Empowerment Organization, the goal is to provide more in the way of housing, health care, food, counseling, and job training. Their strategy is a media campaign that will encompass print, the Internet, radio, television, and “even billboards.”

Actor and comedian Russell Brand reportedly spends more than $2,000 a month supplying food and clothing to people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles. A believer in individual autonomy, he also directly gives out cash. Sports star David Beckham has made news by visiting the Philippines and touring facilities for homeless children in Manila. Articulating his concern, Beckham said:

All these children have been failed by adults in the crucial early years of their lives. I would not be where I am today without the love and support of my parents — every child deserves that, every child deserves a second chance.

Another sports figure, Kobe Bryant, works with his wife to support their nonprofit organization whose main goal is to end youth homelessness. They think the problem is solvable, and work with such institutions as the already established My Friend’s Place. TV personality Kelly Osbourne is also a supporter of My Friend’s Place, having donated clothes from her own wardrobe. Another Los Angeles institution is the True Colors Residence, started by singer Cyndi Lauper for homeless youth.

Also in LA, the perpetually troubled Lindsay Lohan was at one point ordered to do community service at the Good Shepherd Center for Homeless Women, but they wouldn’t have her. Reassigning her to help at the morgue instead, the judge said of the Center:

They refused to take you because they said you’re a bad example for the women who are trying to get their lives in order.

On the other coast of America, Susan Sarandon has served meals at the New York City Rescue Mission where they also distribute gift bags to mothers and children. ABC News captured this wonderful quotation from the actor:

When you can recognize groups that are helping people through a bad time, it helps you to feel like maybe things aren’t so out of control to give a little. So it’s really very self-serving, you meet fabulous people.

Of course America isn’t the only place where the rich and famous inhabitants of the entertainment world contribute to alleviating homelessness. In her native country of Australia, Cate Blanchett is patron of the Homeless Short Film Competition which, with hefty prize money, encourages secondary school students to engage in citizen journalism and create awareness of homeless issues. In short, anyone, anywhere, can find something useful to do in the holiday season, or any time at all.

Reactions?

Source: “Rapper T.I. To Help Homeless Vets In ‘Give Like a King Campaign,’NewsOne, 12/14/12
Source: “David Beckham Visits Homeless Children: ‘They Risk Horrific Abuse’,” Entertainmentwise, 12/02/11
Source: “Lakers: Kobe, Vanessa help homeless,” OC Register, 06/08/11
Source: “ Susan Sarandon helps homeless mothers,” 7Online.com, 05/07/11
Source: “Cate Blanchett Launches Oasis: Homeless Short Film Competition,Just Jared, 04/06/11
Image by Incase.

  1. I have given up thinking folks in this country really do care… (and after watching the Super Bowl ads about how we “care” and “support” our Vets, well I was insulted)

    I am a homeless Vet, a former paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne and probably just one of MILLIONS who feel this way. Presently, the ONLY income/support I get is $200.00 a month in FOOD STAMPS.

    I am also a talented artist/singer/songwriter/story writer and possess many, many other unique, GOD given talents that i seemingly was forced to face and attempt because frankly, I was NEVER given a chance to get a foothold in ANY industry upon completion of my service and return to this great nation of ours (the web site I included has samples of my art and abilities). It became so bad for me that I literally worried myself sick (Graves Disease and a severe hyper-thyroidism condition that took over 5 years and three major radiation treatments to get through) and ultimately cost me everything… my wife and son left me, my siblings abandoned me,I had no job, no money and nowhere to live.

    About nine months ago or so, I was approached by a loose intermediary of the Org. RADD (The Entertainment Industrys’ Voice On Road Safety and formerly Recording Artists, Actors and Athletes Against Drunk Driving) because of a incident that happened to me when I was 18 years of age and just after I graduated from High School (my IDENTICAL twin brother was killed by a 19 yr. old hit-n-run drunk driver and literally left in the gutter to die). I was informed that this Org very much wanted to meet with me, to hear my story and maybe let me help them in some way (being a VET, a musician and a very tragic victim of a drunk driving incident, I thought my fit was seemless and that maybe I had finally found my niche in this world. Today i feel like they just want me to go away. (in August 2012 and AFTER I asked permission to send them a brief letter and samples of my music and writing I was told almost 3 months later that the package was never received although it was sent to the President of the Orgs. personal residence as I was asked to by that specific person) So, I sent it again… this time through the intermediary who informed me that it was personally delivered and again, nada… no meeting, no phone call… no email telling me to get lost (which actually is way easier to take than to think that my twin dying in a gutter didn’t warrant a lousy 5 minute meeting..)Today I realize that it is the samo, samo… does anyone really care or have we , as a nation, just become very adept at talking a good game… like yesterdays Superbowl.

    So today, I taking upon myself to remedy this… for our homeless Vets, my dead brother and anyone who has lost faith in this country and our beliefs. My FULL story is HUGELY compelling… making “Antwone Fisher” look like a bad Gumby and Pokey episode. A song I have written and performed (and found on this soundcloud website I provided) titled WHAT I’M HEARING (which is about hearing the word NO!) will become my anthem and motivation.

    I truly hope someone reads this and emails me back. I badly want to tell my story… and NOT for my benefit but for all folks that find this cruel world we live in to be way too unfair.

    thank you for letting me vent… now, I have work to do!

    Bruce Gordon Saint-Hilaire

  2. Sylvia says:

    Bruce-First, allow me to thank for your service to our nation. Understandably, war elitists strong visceral responses from just about everyone. In my day, people came to the airport and greeted us with jeers and spittle. But not everyone shared that kind of sentiment neither then or now. As a Viet Nam veteran-Marine I too learned that the GI bill would not carry me though four years of college. And my unresolved issues led to over three years of homelessness.

    I am sorry to have learned of your personal tragedies. Now, decades later, I help the disabled homeless go through an application process to secure disability benefits As Director of Legal Aid for the Homeless, and having been there with my own losses, my sense is that you may benefit from psychiatric counseling and some career guidance. The US government has created a Cabinet level government entity: US Department of Veterans Affairs that can offer you support. There is a plethora of perks that are available to you as a veteran.
    Bruce, you have some God-given talents but you may not be able to tap into them until you tackle the baggage that you carry with you.
    Just know this: your life is a marathon…pace your self. And just like that race, there are lots of folks that are on the sidelines willing to help you. I’ll step up first and tell you that you are welcome to call me directly at my morning office at (512) 374-2742.
    You say you like to write, as do I. Writing it down will help you focus your thinking and your energies. You will find it very therapeutic and should you ever choose to you publish, I’ll buy a copy if you’ll agree to sign it.
    Semper Fi.
    Richard

    PS

    Richard R.Troxell
    Author: Looking Up at the Bottom Line

  3. Rocco says:

    Bruce, you’ve gone through alot of tragedy in your life and I couldn’t imagine what it’s like to lose a twin brother. I too was a member of the 82nd Airborne Div. and just like you, I’m living homeless. I was recently just getting by on a non service connected disability at roughly $1000.00 per month, not alot but enough for me to be greatful for. Then this past Febuary the VA claimed they overpaid me and reduced me to $300 monthly, eventually rendering me homless. I’ve pleaded my case with the VA over the past four months and have goten no resolution. I continue to live on the street. So like yourself, I’m realizing first hand that few in this country care about homlessness, especially homeless vets that served their country honorbly and proudly.

  4. asim says:

    my name its asim I come in uk 14 years ago I have been working until my problems started in 2012 and now I haven’t got a home I have been made homeless by places for people and I live on streets I need help

  5. Pat Hartman says:

    Dear Asim, you need to contact an agency in the UK. Very best wishes.