Fighting homelessness 140 characters at a time

By SANDY FLOREZ

The appeal of Twitter is simple: It connects people. In fact, that is exactly what  about 190 million worldwide Tweeters are doing  with Hollywood A-listers, organizations, local and national news journalists, authors, and even Charlie Sheen. But between the hashtags (#) and abbreviations is the beginning of a smaller and nobler cause: Underheard in New York.

Started by three interns at BBH advertising agency after their bosses assigned them a challenge: “Do something good… famously.” And so, Rosemary Melchior, Robert Weeks and Willy Wang came with the idea to get the voices of four homeless New Yorkers out into the mainstream media, through the best and most efficient outlet they could think of – Twitter.

They provided each of the four homeless men (Danny, Derrick, Albert and Carlos) with a prepaid mobile phone, a month of unlimited text messaging and a Twitter account. After a crash course on the language and nature of Twitter, the men got to ‘work,’ tweeting about their daily struggles on the streets and offering insight about the generosity and kindness (and sometimes, lack thereof) of the people they encountered. Each man has something to gain from their new platform — Danny, for example, hopes to find his daughter through Twitter while Albert tweets about his aspiring dream to become a chef. Combined, the men have sent out about 3,500 Tweets.

Though the project has yet to go viral, it might be the start of something big if other organizations follow and support the cause. It seems that Twitter has taken the form of a vehicle for bigger and brighter ideas to spread into the world. All it takes is a tweet.

To learn more about the organization visit http://www.underheardinnewyork.com.

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