From Concept to Creation

Needed Change is a seed from which "change" can grow. With the recent tumultuous political and economic situations, many adopted the slogan, "Change we can believe in." But in most instances, we found it only to be a slogan. As time has passed, the hunger for "change" has starved itself out of the picture. Like numerous others, we felt our job was done and we could wait for this so called "change" to show itself.

Personally, we have not been able to find the change and dreams recently promised. Economic stability, careers, doing what we love, and making a difference have eluded us almost completely. From our own experiences in the workforce or with personal business endeavours, we found ourselves in the same boat as many Americans and citizens of other countries, barely afloat.

Instead of wasting one more valuable minute waiting for this so called "change" we have put into place a plan to submerse ourselves in the homeless culture that millions across the world are suffering from. Our goal is not just to document problems like many before us, but to help make the needed change. By doing so, we hope to better understand and address this horrible epidemic.

By becoming one with this forgotten society we will need to learn to survive all over again. From life's basic needs such as food and shelter to handling the mental strain of life on the streets, this will be a test of will and core beliefs.

Kevin Saftner, Galen Sisco, and Drew A. Dayton are taking the first step in creating change. The first step is not words or feelings, but actions. Our journey will take us to the streets of Miami and undoubtedly many more places. With photography, film, and pen we will document our experiences in this whole new world we will be entering. Together we hope to find solutions for the Needed Change.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Charlotte, NC. Days One & Two!

Hey everyone, hope you all has a great Easter and some time off if you got it. We had a mini-break which was nice, spent traveling from Miami to Charlotte. We were dropped off in the middle of downtown in the afternoon on Easter Sunday and aren't getting picked back up til at least Sunday evening. Right off the bat, the differences between Charlotte and Miami were oh so very evident. Granted it was Easter, the streets of Charlotte were so quiet, unlike any other city I've seen. No traffic, no pedestrians, no tourists, to businesses booming, but the homeless were evident.

Shortly after being dropped off we did some exploring and found a men's homeless shelter. It was nice to get some easter dinner but was better was the people we met right away. This man named Richard greeted us as we were walking up to the shelter, within 3 minutes he hit us with his story. Richard, in his mid 40's, was dressed well and was very hospitable. He worked for the shelter but you'd never guess he was homeless himself until he told us that 2 weeks ago his house burned down and he was left with basically nothing. Luckily he was able to keep his job working on remodeling buildings downtown but he still has to start over. He enjoyed keeping us company, making us laugh, and feel not so out of place.

From there the stories of the people we met grew deeper. We met a guy named Joshua, 27, who, tragically lost his mother, father, and sister all within 5 weeks about 7 years ago. We hand't heard a story of that magnitude yet. Because of the circumstances he ended up in trouble, on the streets and in homeless shelters. Today Joshua beams with hope. He is excited that he will finally be working in the very near future. The guy's communication skills are second to none and I hope we can help him find some sort of job or connection that can help him. He's just one of those people that, when they talk, you listen.

Also at the shelter we met a guy named Pooch who shared with us a lot of information about the homeless culture of Charlotte. Pooch is homeless because of family problems and says it's safer for him in shelters. To us, it's heartbreaking, no one should have to deal with that, but if you're family is your shelter brothers, so be it.

After our time at the shelter we hit the streets. We found this girl named Mena who has been homeless for quite a few years. She's got a great voice and is constantly working on her music to propel herself to higher grounds. She says she sleeps on bus-stop benches and only carries a few personal belongings for fear of being robbed. Beyond that, she has a great mind. She's got some great theories on what could help homelessness, especially women, and we look forward to growing our relationship with her and helping her in any way possible.

The great thing about this project is after we get some of these videos edited of these people, there shouldn't be a problem with posting them on here and on our blog and hopefully getting them a job. So we can't hire these people but you know what, there's about 2200 people following us now, it couldn't hurt to throw it out there. Maybe someone knows someone that could help. After interacting with the homeless the past 5 weeks, I don't think anything is a long shot anymore.

After sleeping just off the side of Tryon St. we made our way to a place called the Urban Ministry Center. This place blew my mind as to the services they provide for the homeless. They have an art studio, a soccer team, a choir, and an urban garden just rattle off a few things we learned about today. The sense of connectivity at this place is something unrivaled and I believe that is one of the biggest things homeless people need and deserve. A feeling of friendship, teamwork, and working together with other people brings them a sense of joy that is often taken for granted.

The people we met today who are staff members at the Urban Ministry Center are doing incredible work. We're excited to get a more in-depth tour of the facility in the next few days. Today, our goal was to get to that place, meet people, allow them to become comfortable with us, and then film later on. I think we more than succeeded on all accounts and are ready to start interviewing the staff and homeless alike tomorrow. We will also be helping the staff running the art department with some projects they are doing right now. That's what this whole experience is all about...helping as many people we can and letting everyone know that the homeless are people too. People capable of making differences, people with ambitions, people with skills and drive, people that need a chance.

From here, we are hitting the streets again. Raivis is anxious to find a job in order to acquire enough money to buy a camera and provide photography to this project. It's awesome seeing him happy by helping out. He's constantly telling us how happy and proud his mother would be of him for doing this and it can get pretty emotional at times but in the end its rewarding, inspiring, and encouraging more than anything.

I hope you guys are excited as we are to be about halfway through this project and still thirsting for more. Catch you all later.


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