Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What's in a Name? (The I Have a Name Project)

Names are meaningful. They identify. They humanize. They connect. They conjure emotion and association. When we are nameless, we become less than significant; a number in a demographic. But all demographics are comprised of real people, with real histories, real feelings, and real experiences. Demographics are comprised of people, and those people have names.

All too often, the people who comprise the homeless demographic remain nameless to the general population. They are seen as a nuisance, or a problem to be solved, or an object of pity. When I met Jon Linton, I knew it was not a chance encounter. It was more like divine serendipity. The mutual friend who introduced us had brought us together in a spur of the moment coffee date for entirely different reasons, but when the conversation turned to Jon's ideas for The I Have a Name Project, I knew why we had really been brought together. It's a subject close to my heart.

My mother was homeless for a time. She was not lazy. She was not stupid. She was not just a problem to be solved. Her name was Julie; and she was a human being who was loved. She had schizophrenia, and was part of the most at-risk homeless population of those individuals who suffer from a mental illness.

I am deeply honored to be playing a very small role in this incredibly important project. None of us ever does anything entirely alone, and although Jon is working his ass off, it's going to take a village. If you are moved to do so, please donate. The money will be put to good use. It will serve as love in action, which is the only sort of love that is real. Every penny helps. Give some love to those who rarely hear their names called out with kindness.

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