Interns Give Voice to Homeless
By Kathryn Knight Randolph
February 18, 2011
Photo Courtesy of Underheard in New York.
Three interns at Bartle Bogle Hegarty were given an assignment at the start of their experience: “Do something good, famously,” according to their website. The interns, Rosemary Melchoir, Willy Wang and Robert Weeks, were left to interpret that message however they saw fit.
The interns noticed that in New York City, the homeless population begins to blend in with the rest of the city once you’ve lived there for just a few months. Their faces disappear within the physical aspects and overall rush, making them just like any other inanimate object on the sidewalk – a trashcan, a fire hydrant, a news stand. In an effort to raise awareness that these people have stories, they began Underheard in New York.
The non-for-profit gives four homeless men a chance to share their lives through prepaid cell phone plans and Twitter accounts. Danny is searching for someone to write his life story as well as his daughter. Derrick is trying to find a job. Albert wants to attend cooking school and become a chef. And finally, Carlos is trying to start his own credit collection agency.
BBH gave the interns $1,000 for their project. It was up to them to get it started. “BBH has a relationship with the New York City Rescue Mission, so we went there first and they put us in touch with a counselor, who introduced us to people they thought would be a good fit,” Melchior said in a Los Angeles Times blog interview.
Following that introduction, the interns taught the four men how to use text messaging and Twitter. They’ve also set up a YouTube channel where they track Danny, Derrick, Albert and Carlos, through this experience and their day-to-day life.
The three interns believe that this experience will help make a difference. To date, the men combined have over 9,000 followers on Twitter. Followers are helping these men survive homelessness with job leads, civic help and words of encouragement.
Their blog states, “We all came into this with an interest in helping people use social media to tell their story. We think that the Ted Williams story is a great example of how access to social media- in his case Youtube- can change lives.” You can witness the change by following @putodanny, @awitness2011, @albert814 and @jessie550 on Twitter.
Have you had an internship experience that allowed you to help others? Tell us more in our comments feed.
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