Mark Horvath used to be invisible, back when he was homeless. He knows what it’s like when people pass by without acknowledging his humanity. Now he has a home, work, and the drive to rip away the cloak of invisibility that makes our neighbours disappear to us when they fall on hard times.
He is on a passionate mission with his vlog (video blog), InvisiblePeople.tv. Writing about a homeless man on Hollywood Boulevard, he says,
“Once on the street, people started to walk past him, ignoring him as if he didn’t exist… much like they do a piece of trash on the sidewalk. It’s not that people are bad, but if we make eye contact, or engage in conversation, then we have to admit they exist and that we might have a basic human need to care. But it’s so much easier to simply close our eyes and shield our hearts to their existence.”
Horvath started a road trip around America, to give homeless people a voice. In 2011 he brought his third road trip to Canada and says, “We’re using video and social media to expose the pain, hardship and hopelessness that millions of people face each day.”
On the InvisiblePeople YouTube channel, you’ll meet Brotha BlueStocking in Boston, Terra in Toronto, and even some of the people from two faith-based organizations in my hometown of Kelowna. Or you can go to the InvisiblePeople vlog and click on one of the people whose names swirl under the heading “Homeless Has a Name”.
The respect and love Horvath shows to the people he meets is what sets this initiative apart from many of the well-intended efforts to draw attention to homelessness. Horvath has walked the mean streets. He meets people as equals rather than as problems.
Catherine in Ottawa gave me the title for this post. She wrote her story about homelessness and panhandling and explains what it means when someone stops to chat, showing some small measure of caring. After all, she says, “Panhandlers do not grow up dreaming of panhandling.” (Her interview is below.)
At the bottom of his “About” page, Horvath writes a message to all of us: “Please always remember, the homeless people you’ll ignore today were much like you not so long ago.”
(You can follow Mark Horvath on Twitter.)