"Homeless Holidays" Summary of 24th monthly #TDELC sleepout

Institutionalization is said to take place after 2 years of being in a specific situation. In #HomelessEntrepreneur's case, we have just celebrated our 2 year anniversary of sleeping out in the street between 1-4 days every month around the world. This commitment goes beyond the visibility we receive thanks to the press and the awareness created amongst each and every person who interacts with us during our monthly sleepout: It is building a community that's bringing homeless people and active citizens together to create a strong network of professionals who are opening up job opportunities for homeless people who are willing to tell their story and work to become active citizens again.

For our first institutionalized event, we decided to celebrate the 2 year monthly sleepout anniversary by giving 7 #HomelessEntrepreneurs 24 hours of vacation in Barcelona.
— Andrew Funk, President of #HomelessEntrepreneur

What better way to celebrate than inviting a homeless person from another city who has been supporting us via Twitter for the last two years?!?

Amparo Barcenas is a homeless woman from Valencia who is struggling with homelessness. We asked her to share a little bit of her story and invite our community to donate so we could pay for her transportation so she could participate in our monthly #TDELC sleepout, which she was more than happy to do. Within 24 hours of sharing her video, we were able to raise the money, buy her tickets and give her a huge smile!

August 20th, 2018: Day 1 of our monthly #TDELC sleepout

Rise & Shine with a Little Bit of Yoga

Yoga has benefits beyond the mat and many of these can help homeless people because believe it or not, homeless people are people too. According to Yoga Journal, not only does it enhance your health, it also helps you focus, gives you peace of mind and makes you happier. Thanks to Leila, we were able to enjoy all of these benefits on the beautiful beach of Sant Sebastià in Barcelona in front of the Mediterranean sea.

Down Time after Yoga Creates Moments to Bond

Believe it or not, we relaxed even more after the yoga class and that gave everyone the opportunity to get to know each other a little bit better. One of the most important aspects of our monthly #TDELC sleepout is how we grow as a team. Spend 24 hours with anyone and you'll see how a natural bond takes places, which allows you to have a better relationship with those around you due to a better understanding of who they truly are.

Checking in, Showering & Fresh Clothes

The final touch of a good few hours at the beach is a nice cold shower, which is why we headed to the 3 hostels (Sweet BCN, Casa Kessler & Hostal Grau) that participated in the event as sponsors by providing room and board for the #HomelessEntrepreneurs participating in the event. All of our bellies were protesting a bit by then because they knew where we were headed: Parc Ciudatella for a picnic thanks to Valerie, a volunteer who first connected with us via LinkedIn!

Sharing a Summer Breeze, Good Healthy Food & Dreams

It may be a little ironic to invite homeless people to a park for a picnic because there are so many homeless people who actually live there, but we thought it was a good idea and we weren't wrong. Luckily, we were able to find some shade under a tree next to the botanic gardens, so everyone was able to enjoy the conversation and food out of the uncomfortable heat. Guillem, a #HomelessEntrepreneur who was able to get work thanks to our monthly #TDELC sleepout in front of the Mobile World Congress, was finally able to join us and he came with a friend, Antonio. Arriving late isn't acceptable at #HomelessEntrepreneur, but being late because of work is always a good excuse in our book. Time passed quickly and before we knew it, it was already 4pm, which meant we only had an hour to get to Gracia for a previously booked block tour during Festes de Gracia. Thanks to Alba, an actress and one of the lastest #HomelessEntrepreneurs, we were able to take advantage of this special opportunity. 

Getting a special look into what's behind Festes de Gràcia

After spending more than 8 hours together, the event started to seem more like a family outing and everyone truly felt like they were on vacation even if it was getting to know their own city. The definition of vacation started to sink in.

A vacation or holiday is a leave of absence from a regular occupation, or a specific trip or journey, usually for the purpose of recreation or tourism... Vacations are often spent with friends or family.
— Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vacation

We all wandered around the tiny streets full of tourists and Spanish citizens until we got hungry and ordered Kebab next to an appropriate plaza called plaça de la revoluciò and then entered a fruit store to get some juice. Yes, we got pear and guayaba juice, not beer. #HomelessEntrepreneurs are healthy like that ;-) While we ate, we waiting for music but it never came, which wasn't really a problem because it gave us time to get to know each other even more. As the night got darker and we neared midnight, the #HomelessEntrepreneurs drifted off to their hostels and the volunteers who planned on sleeping in front of Barcelona Turisme's corporate office headed towards a gently inclined sidewalk lit brightly by a street light.

Like always we searched for cardboard boxes to use as bedding and we set up our homeless hotel and create our signs to create awareness about conscious tourism. A homeless man from Extremadura named Jose was looking for cardboard in the trash can and I invited him to join us, which he happily accepted. Not only did he show interest in what we were doing, but he also made it a point to teach me about the Lincoln Battalion and how the group of American volunteers participated in the Spanish Civil War. After Jose got comfortable and fell asleep with a sleeping bag or blanket, the bouncer from Barcelona's sophistication magnet and restaurant, Boca Grande, came over to ask us about what we were doing.

Finally able to "sleep"

A sleepout is a bit ironic because you never really sleep well... at least people who aren't sleeping rough. You can normally tell who is used to it because they are the first ones to go to sleep and the first ones to wake up. If you ever sleep out with us, you'll find out the sleeping in isn't an option. We always have the most efficient alarm clock on the world: the sun.

We cleaned up our area like always and headed towards Casa Kessler for breakfast as Jose kept sleeping next to a sign that said "Tourists 'please help homeless' go home." While I had coffee and waited for everyone to join us I ran across an online article called Sick posters encouraging tourists to jump off balconies emerge on the streets of Barcelona after spate of British deaths in Spain this summer, which was sad to read. While we promote healthier habits between locals and tourists, others are inviting them to jump off building to their death.

Breakfast is a luxury for homeless people

I'll never get the image of receiving cold chicken and cold french fries for breakfast at a social lunchroom in Palma de Mallorca. Waking up to and going to a beautiful terrace where fruit, juice, sandwiches and yogurt awaits you is next to heavenly in comparison to what you can receive as donations for breakfast. Thanks to Hanne, the owner of Casa Kessler, we were able to enjoy this moment during amicable conversations before we headed off to our final destination: the National Museum of Catalan Art (MNAC).

Judit, a #HomelessEntrepreneur, guides us through the MNAC

While Beto, #HomelessEntrepreneur's official photographer got lost taking pictures of all the art, Judit took us on a 3 hours adventure within the MNAC explaining details that only an expert guide would know. Ramon, a #HomelessEntrepreneur, gave her a 12 out of 10 when I asked him about his experience during the private tour. Unlike the stigmatized image of many homeless people, most citizens would be surprised at how knowledge many homeless people are and how conscious they are of cultural issues.

Group Picture at the End of the Event

Definition of success during a monthly #TDELC sleepout

We met a homeless person from Italy named Andrea at the beginning of the event and he decided to participate the entire 24 hours and even sleep with us in front of Barcelona Turisme. Little did he know, he would have his first job interview 72 hours later in Sant Cugat at a pastry shop called Dolç par Yan Duytsche. Andrea got the job and will be starting on September 15th =)

A special thanks to each and every person who participated in the 24th #TDELC monthly sleepout! If you want to join us in the next #TDELC for La Diada on September 10th-11th at Monument a Rafael Casanovas, just click on the button below to sign up!

If you'd like to support our monthly #TDELC event and make sure they speed up the process of creating work and housing for homeless people in our program, please click on the button below and make a donation

Donate & support sleepout

See everyone at the next #TDELC on September 10th-11th!

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO SPEED UP THE PROCESS OF CREATING JOB & HOUSING OPPORTUNITIES TO END HOMELESSNESS FOR PEOPLE IN OUR PROGRAM?

  • Make a donation and support #HomelessEntrepreneurs around the world by providing them with the tools, resources and opportunities they need.
  • Share our progress via LinkedInFacebook and/or Twitter.

  • Discover other ways to collaborate within your means.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact us and let us know!

"Cinema, Beach & Homelessness:" Summary of 23rd #TDELC monthly sleepout

Sleeping in the street, even if it's only once a month, never gets easy because there's always a different factor that drains your energy the following day as you recuperate. During our 23rd #TodosDurmiendoEnLaCalle (EveryoneSleepingInTheStreet) monthly sleepout, we began with the sand between our toes and red and black markers in our hands as we started to create cardboard signs with positive messages like we do every single month and ended with the longest total lunar eclipse of the century.

The main focus of this event was leisure time, health and networking with the Mediterranean sea as a backdrop, tourists from across the globe and a cloudless sky making it impossible to hide from the sun at 31ºC (87.8ºF) unless you took a dip in the sea.

Our monthly event represents a day in the life of the homeless people in the city we celebrate it. We always face resistance and support as we help give #HomelessEntrepreneurs in our program a voice in society. Fortunately, the only resistance we had to deal with was from the organization called Cinema Lliure a la platja, which holds free movie sessions at the beach during July. We had mentioned their organization because we were going to watch Patti Cake$ from 21h-23h and it was the easiest visible meeting point for those who were going to participate in our 24 hour event. Can you believe that they threatened us with legal action for mentioning their name within our program? Wonder why they got so nervous? I was a bit confused, too, and had to wait until their office manager with a strong German accent crept up behind me while I was creating our sign with the schedule for Day 1. Having spent the last 23 months sleeping in streets around the world, you eventually grow eyes out the back of your head to survive, which is what I ended up using this time too.

The office manager said, "you can't be here. If you don't leave, I'll have to call the police," with a very serious tone. I smiled and said, "I know my rights as a citizens and I also know I'm not breaking the law. What's the real problem? What are you afraid of?" Stereotypes about homeless make many people uncomfortable around them and especially if they get organized. It took a few minutes, but I finally got it out of him. He took a deep breath and exclaimed, "You guys might run in front of the movie screen and start screaming in front of the audience. You could be from the extreme right, PP." I tried my best not to laugh, but let it out because his fear was based on his perception, not the reality. I summarized how #HomelessEntrepreneur provides opportunities to homeless people who want to tell their story and work to be active citizens again and that we are not violent and only focus on integration. The last thing we look for is confrontation. That being said, we do want to open up people's eyes and make them think, which is what happened with this person. They know who we are now and won't be afraid next time if they see #HomelessEntrepreneur's like Guillem, Ramon and Judit participating in an event. 

After dealing with a little bit of resistance, we immediately ran into great support: Tijeras Solidarias, an organization that provides free haircuts to homeless. We hope to start collaborating with them in August.

As beach friendly music played in the background and the sun started to set, #HomelessEntrepreneurs, #HE team members and volunteers found a nice place to sit as they spoke and waited for the movie to start.

Nobody was hurt, insulted or annoyed during the movie ;-)

After watching the movie, we laid a cardboard down so those who wanted to fall asleep early like Vincent, a #HE who graduated early this year, could get comfortable, while the rest of the people who were going to sleep out at the beach spoke amongst each other. The newest #HE, Emilio, had some great news to share with the rest of the group: he got a job on the same day he entered our program =) Before we knew it, it was 1 am and the police came by to ask us to move so we didn't get wet as they cleaned the beach. We woke Vincent up, moved all our bedding off the sand and waited for the workers to finish.

One of the homeless people we know didn't hear the officer and got down to his underwear to go out for a swim. As he walked towards the sea to get some midnight exercise, a police officer screamed out "Hey, Captain Underwear, get off the beach until we finish" in between laughs. Resistance also has its light side and can be full of humor.

The beach was finally cleaned and we had to look for a dry place to call home for the night, which wasn't far off. We made two new homeless friends because we set up camp where they've been sleeping for the last 2 months. One guy was from Ghana and the other was from Senegal and they both had crazy stories about how they got to Spain and how they survive. One of them had been married for 10 years, in prison for selling marijuana, and actively looking for a way to get back on his feet again, and the other kept his stories hidden on the inside as he did his best to keep a broken hand of his from touching anything around. They had been robbed the previous night and got into a fight to get a small part of the possessions back. The streets is full of stories to be told and the best ones are normally told when you try to fall asleep as passerbyers stop to saw hi, have a smoke and a good laugh.

My favorite part about sleeping out in the street is waking up early and seeing the sun rise. Beto, a #HomelessEntrepreneur, was one of the last to fall asleep because he was watching episodes of Sponge Bob and laughing until he couldn't keep his eyes open, and was the first one up as he took his camera out to take pictures of the sunrise and all the "ducks." He was corrected and told they are seagulls, but he just laughed and kept calling them ducks.

If you ever sleep in the street with us, you'll find out that the first thing you do is look for a bathroom, if you can find one, and coffee. Vincent and I took a stroll down Passeig de Joan Borbo until we found a small coffee shop. I ordered white coffee and he asked for green tea with honey and lemon. We obviously got a shot of expresso with milk and white coffee... Being as early as it was, mistakes make you laugh more than anything. As he waited for his tea, we spoke about how his life has changed since he graduated. He's currently working as a personal trainer and is looking for a microloan so he can help people change bad habits or addictions they need to overcome. After 3 years of building #HomelessEntrepreneur, people in the program like Vincent feel more like family than just people participating in our program. We conversed for 30 minutes and then walked back to where we slept because it was time to start our first activity: Beach cleanup!

 

Every time we hold a monthly sleepout, we ask ourselves how we can lead by example and how we can add value to society. The first activity came to mind immediately: Cleaning up the beach! Citizens should respect our environment and #HEs want to lead by actions instead of just words, which is why we gave the city hall workers a happy hand in cleaning up the beach from 8am-9am. As we picked up empty beer cans, torn plastic bags and cigarette butts off the sand, we wondered if people would respect the beach more if they had to pay to use it. Imagine if people were charged per visit depending on the amount of trash left on the beach the day before... Do you think it would be cleaner? Most likely! Just one of many ideas that we come up with during our 24 hour event.

After an hour giving a little bit back to the city of Barcelona as a way of saying thanks for taking care of our beaches, we moved on to the next activity: Swimming!

Swimming has many benefits (for homeless) including:
being a relaxing and peaceful form of exercise,
alleviating stress,
improving coordination, balance and posture,
improving flexibility,
providing good low-impact therapy for some injuries and conditions,
and providing a pleasant way to cool down on a hot day.
— "Better Health Channel" https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/swimming-health-benefits

We couldn't help creating a specific sign to use while we were in the water to invite people to donate to help speed up the process of ending homelessness!

 

After swimming for an hour, everyone started to do a little beach networking! If you don't know what it is, I'll tell you right now! Sharing our story with a bunch of strangers at the beach =) We spoke with locals as well as with tourists and four guys from Hungary's national water polo team. You never know who you are going to run into in the streets!

Going with the flow

All of the #HomelessEntrepreneurs and the volunteers enjoyed the beach networking activity that they decided to keep doing it until we had lunch. Luckily for everyone, Erika Henao, one of our legal advisors, brought water for the team and 50 bottles for our next activity: Free Water for Tourists who smile for homeless to support those working hard to improve their life and get off the street. You might be wondering why homeless people would give water to people at the beach. It's actually quite simple. We thought about how we could add value to those around us and giving people water was a simple solution. 

Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day.
— "Mayo Clinic" https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256

A volunteer for our health department, Marina from Sao Paolo, Brazil, worked side-by-side with Judit and got more pictures than we can share and told those who participated what #HomelessEntrepreneur was all about while they did it.

 

It's almost impossible to spend 24 hours in the street without attracting other people you know online that you've never met in person as well as others who are working towards similar goals. One example of meeting someone in person after knowing each other online for over 3 years is Best-selling author, blogger and contributor to Esquire, Lonely Planet and more, Daniel Welsh. Hopefully we'll be able to meet up in 2 weeks and come up with an article for his blog about what #HomelessEntrepreneur is doing to speed up the process of creating work and housing for and with homeless people.

One example of meeting people working on ending homelessness was a group of 4 women who work in a homeless organization in Scotland called Dunedin Canmore. Getting to know how people are ending homelessness around the world gives us a more complete view of how we can innovate and improve our work at #HomelessEntrepreneur.

This activity also lasted longer than expected thanks to such a great response from the public. We soon got closer and closer to 7pm, which meant 24 hours had passed and it was time to clean the area, pack up and get some rest. As a personal note, it normally takes me 24 to 36 hours to recuperate and get back to my senses. It always makes me wonder how people who have been homeless for months and years deal with such high level of stress. It also reminds me of how much I respect each and every #HomelessEntrepreneur in our program giving their best to change their life.

The next monthly sleepout is going to be our 2 year anniversary. Since we started this event, we've helped end homelessness for and with 8 homeless people in our program, and thanks to their effort and the support of our network, we'll be able to do it for the 16 homeless people that are currently in our program!

A special thanks to each and every person who participated in the 23rd #TDELC monthly sleepout! See everyone at the next #TDELC in August!!

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO SPEED UP THE PROCESS OF CREATING JOB & HOUSING OPPORTUNITIES TO END HOMELESSNESS FOR PEOPLE IN OUR PROGRAM?

  • Make a donation and support #HomelessEntrepreneurs around the world by providing them with the tools, resources and opportunities they need.
  • Share our progress via LinkedInFacebook and/or Twitter.

  • Discover other ways to collaborate within your means.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact us and let us know!

#HomelessEntrepreneur (#HE) will be at the AI for Good Summit in Geneva

Andrew Funk, founder and CEO of #HE will be at the 2nd edition of the AI for Good Global Summit (Geneva, Switzerland, 15-17 May 2018) to present #HE’s initiative to end homelessness.  The AI for Good series is the leading United Nations platform for dialogue on AI.

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The action-oriented 2018 summit will identify practical applications of AI and supporting strategies to improve the quality and sustainability of life on our planet. AI can accelerate the progress towards the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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SDG 11 is facing enormous challenges in making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Due to the unprecedented urban growth the world has experienced in recent decades, we believe homeless people should be considered a key part of the challenges that the new urban ecosystems are experiencing.
 

HOW CAN AI HELP ENDING HOMELESSNESS?

At #HE we are working on a program that is inclusive and fosters economic empowerment to end homelessness for those willing and able to participate. By leveraging machine learning (WorkVibez), #HomelessEntrepreneurs will soon be able to use AI to develop their professional skills on a job creation platform and by applying blockchain technology (ComGo), they will have smart verified profiles, which means a safe, official digital identity accessible for service and support providers as well as government officials.

Machine Learning can enable us to predict homelessness as well as suggest means to eradicate it.”
— Hassan Raza

Hassan Raza, Growth Hacker and Co-Founder of Revolution Flame Social Media Group and WorkVibez, also shares the opinion that AI plays a key role in ending homelessness. First of all, machine learning will be used to predict a homeless person’s employability and learning needs, which will ultimately connect him or her with relevant support groups, so s/he can attain and enhance his or her professional skills and turn dream jobs into a reality.

Secondly, it will be used to measure a homeless person’s mental and emotional health in order to help him or her improve specific factors via self-paced e-learning suggestions.

Lastly, it will be used to predict a homeless person’s learning outcomes as well as how much socio-economic education s/he needs to end homelessness for him/herself alongside the community supporting them.

A smart city needs homeless people to participate actively with the support of a committed community directed by #HomelessEntrepreneur, AI tools to enhance the results and blockchain technology to verify the process and create credibility so a smart city no longer has any homeless people to need.

A Smart City without homeless people is a Smarter City.
— Andrew Funk

¿WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP END HOMELESNESS?

Have any doubt or feedback? Reach out to us here.