Homeless raise awareness in 140 words or less

By Sarah Luckert
April 6, 2011

The Unheard in New York project had one purpose, to fight homelessness 140 characters at a time. The project was designed as a 30-day trial that used social networking to give a voice to homeless people living in New York City.

Follow Danny (@putodanny), Derrick (@awitness2011), Albert (@albert814) and Carlos (@jessie550), on Twitter to find out how they live their daily lives.

Danny, Derrick, Albert and Carlos were the four homeless residents chosen to participate in the project. The men were given prepaid cell phones and Twitter accounts in order to help them become part of the social media world that so many are a part of.

The project was designed to allow interested people to follow the lives of the four men as they tweet about their everyday struggles. Giving the homeless men food, clothing and money would seem like the smarter way to spend money on solving the problem but the Unheard in New York project decided to think ahead.

The Unheard project was started by three interns at the advertising agency, Bartle Bogle Hegarty, located in New York City. Their mission as interns was to find a way “to do something good, famously.” The interns taught the four men how to use the cell phones as well as Twitter. Hoping this project would give the men a chance at a better life was the real idea behind the intern’s idea.

With a budget of $1,000, the interns spent a lot less with a greater impact than they expected. All of the men acquired over 2,000 followers and as people become more aware of the project, the number only goes up.

From this project Derrick received a phone call from NY Giants player Steve Smith who was inspired by his hundreds of tweets. The project also gave him the opportunity to receive a job interview, something that is easier to get with the help of social media than without.

Albert was given $200 by one of his loyal followers that was used to pay for transit tickets. Carlos was also given something by one of his followers, a $30 metro card which means he doesn’t have to walk 2.5 hours to the library each day.

The real miracle of the Unheard in New York project has to do with Danny. After 11 years apart and only three weeks into the project, Danny was able to find his daughter Sarah. Danny and Sarah had been separated when she left their home to live with her mother. Danny tweeted “Hi thi is to let yo people know that in lookin eoq my daughter her name is sarah m rivera.” Danny followed by posting his new telephone number and a photograph of his daughter. The next day Sarah called him.

The Unheard in New York project proved to live beyond its initial expectations. Four men were given a chance to experience something most take for granted and social media gave them opportunities beyond themselves.




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Sarah Luckert

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