Monday, June 22, 2015

Social media page helping homeless people in Anchorage get reconnected with rural families

A social media campaign in Alaska is helping homeless people in Anchorage reconnect with their rural families, Michelle Theriault Boots reports for Alaska Dispatch News. The Facebook page, "Forget Me Not," was established by motivational speaker Samuel Johns as a way to give the homeless a platform to be seen and heard by family members, while allowing families to try to track down homeless relatives. A recent survey found that 51 percent of homeless people in Anchorage—many of them native Alaskans—are from rural areas.

Johns said "the group would be a virtual bulletin board for information about people living on the streets of Alaska’s largest city who had slipped out of contact with loved ones," Boots writes. "He approaches people with simple questions: Where are you from? And do you want to send a message to anyone back home?" Johns told Boots, “There’s a lot of people in rural areas who have a loved one they wonder about. This gives them a platform to see them again.”

With Johns and volunteers scouring the streets for homeless, the page has already become a success, attracting more than 4,500 followers in the first week, Boots writes. "When the group exploded with followers, Johns realized he had tapped into a previously unaddressed need. People disappear into the world of Anchorage street living, sometimes with no phone, no address and no reliable way to contact them. Their families are left to wonder." (Read more)

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