When mentally composing my holiday gift shopping list, I rarely think of getting social change tools for people I love. That’s sort of silly, and a wasted opportunity, considering that the people I love share with me the value of helping our fellow community members. Also, we have the ability here, right on this site, to purchase gift donations for loved ones. We promote this idea heavily around Mother’s Day – make a donation, get a lovely gift card for a mom you love.
So, when I reached the end of Open Our Eyes: Seeing the Invisible People of Homelessness, a collection of essays and stories about the way activist Mark Horvath is working for change, I was startled by the idea that popped into my head: “I should get everybody this book for Christmas.” It surprised me because aside from the hopeful fact that every contributor to this book is working in some way to alleviate the plight of America’s homeless, the feeling I got from reading it was a dull ache in the pit of my stomach. Homeless is real, it sucks, and it has a human face. What we’re doing to help isn’t enough. And what a heartwarming gift to give your loved ones!
In “Open Our Eyes,” short profiles of some of the homeless people that Mark Horvath has featured on his interview site InvisiblePeople.tv appear among essays contributed by activists and social media professionals who have encountered him along his way. The reader begins to visualize both Horvath’s work out in homeless communities and his effects on the rest of the world. They ripple outward. I myself, through HAMO co-founder Lisa Truong (who contributed an essay), have worked with Mark and witnessed his larger-than-life personality. He is inspiring and overwhelming, but as he says in his own contribution to the book, the story is not about him. It’s about the millions of homeless men, women, and children who need places to live.
“Open Our Eyes” is a quick read at 107 pages and an inexpensive gift at $9.99 on Amazon. All proceeds will support Horvath’s work with InvisiblePeople.tv. Far from a heartwarming gift, this book paints a very real picture of homelessness and what is being done about it, and what should be done about it. Maybe it will help your family members and friends understand why you are passionate about helping others. Maybe it will open their eyes.