November 19, 2018

This homeless hotline is helping reconnect families

This San Francisco nonprofit uses technology and an army of volunteers to help homeless individuals find loved ones.

With help from volunteers, Miracle Messages is becoming a lifeline for homeless individuals who have lost touch with their families. Individuals can reconnect with their loved ones via a mobile app, an online referral form, or the national hotline 1-800-MISS-YOU.

A homeless person is often isolated from family connections, cut off due to lack of communication, owing to the loss of a ready means to communicate with them. A program, called Miracle Messages, is seeking to change all that. The program, founded by social entrepreneur Kevin Adler, seeks to empower the homeless in San Francisco with the ability to send short messages to family members. The effort has established a toll-free hotline 800 number that allows a homeless person to call in and record a short message, which is then delivered to the homeless person’s family.

There are a myriad of reasons the homeless lose contact with family members. Among those reasons is the loss of a phone. “A lot of people lose their phones, they lose numbers and they don’t know how to reach out,” Adler told TechCrunch. “But the biggest one,” Adler said, is “shame, embarrassment, fear, feeling worthless.” Volunteers working with the program sign up to receive calls from the homeless clients; the calls are routed to the volunteers’ cell phones. Volunteers can also act as “digital detectives” that work to help locate family members for the homeless.

The program is already paying off in family reconnections. Some 227 messages have been delivered leading to 131 people being reunited with their families, according to the group’s website.

The Renewal Project

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