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This group found a simple way to get messages from homeless people to their families.

'I never realized I was homeless when I lost my home but only when I lost my family and friends to support me.'

Kevin Adler's uncle, Mark, was always a very family-oriented person.

He remembered everyone's birthday and gave thoughtful gifts. One year, he gave Kevin an eagle bandana because Adler means "eagle" in German.

Mark also had mental health problems throughout his life. He was schizophrenic and often in and out of homelessness.


Mark Adler. Photo via Kevin Adler/Miracle Messages, used with permission.

10 years after his death, Kevin and his father visited Mark's gravesite. It was Kevin's first time doing so. In fact, he didn't even known his uncle had one. Mark was estranged, but the family felt it was important "that he not be forgotten," as Kevin's father put it.

This got Kevin thinking about all the people without homes in the world (over 100 million according to the last attempted global survey) who either have a mental illness or are simply down on their luck and are disconnected from their families. Then, he thought about how easily he and his friends and family connect via social media — a power few homeless people are probably able to harness.

It wasn't until Kevin launched an art project for his church, however, that he found a way to change this.  

He wanted to show his fellow churchgoers what it was like to see the world through a homeless person's eyes.

Photo via Kevin Adler/Miracle Messages, used with permission.

It was called Homeless GoPro and involved homeless volunteers wearing GoPros to show what a day in their lives looked like.

While working with them, Kevin kept hearing iterations of this sentiment: ​"I never realized I was homeless when I lost my home but only when I lost my family and friends to support me."

That's when he realized he could do a great deal more for them using the same camera and his Facebook account. He could record their stories and send them out on social media to help try and find their families.

He would end up calling the project Miracle Messages.

“That’s my daughter. I love her. And for Father’s Day she actually gave me a foot imprint. But I have a good friend who...

Posted by Miracle Messages on Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Kevin decided to test out his idea in San Francisco around Christmas in 2014.

He walked down Market Street and asked every homeless person he came across if they'd like to leave a holiday video message for a loved one.

That's when he met Jeffrey.

Kevin with Jeffrey on Market Street. Photo via Kevin Adler/Miracle Messages, used with permission.

"I started talking to him," said Kevin. "He was a little bit out of it, but once I asked him about his family, he got incredibly lucid. He looked me right in the eye and said, 'I haven’t seen my family in a long time.'"

It had been 22 years.

Kevin asked him if he'd like to record a video message for his sister and father (the family Jeffrey remembered) that Kevin would then use to try and locate them. He said "yes," and Kevin obliged.

That night, Kevin went on an internet search for Jeffrey's family. He found a group on Facebook associated with Jeffrey's hometown in Pennsylvania and sent them a message asking if they wouldn't mind sharing the video. They agreed, and within minutes, comments from locals started pouring in. After 20 minutes, his sister was tagged.  

On Christmas Eve, Kevin got on the phone with Jeffrey's sister and learned that Jeffrey had actually been a missing person for 12 years. Three weeks later, Jeffrey's hometown ended up raising $5,000 to bring him home and rehabilitate him.

The reconciliation felt too good to be true. Kevin was able to change Jeffrey's life with his simple idea.

Eager to help more people, Kevin took his messaging service to St. Anthony's Foundation in downtown San Francisco.

Johnny at St. Anthony's in San Francisco. Photo via Miracle Messages, used with permission.

St. Anthony's has been serving food to the homeless since 1950. At first it seemed like no one was interested, but then, just as he was leaving, one man named Johnny took him up on his request to record a message.

He hadn't seen his family in 33 years and had been listed as missing person for 20. Kevin followed the same procedure he had enacted in Jeffrey's case, and within three weeks, all four of Johnny's brothers and sisters got on a plane to San Francisco with their families and reunited with Johnny in person.

According to Kevin, while he was in the hotel room with them all, Johnny looked at him and said, "Thank you for giving me my family back."

Out of the 45 video messages sent by volunteers at Miracle Messages, there have been nearly 20 reunions.

Perry's reunion with his son, Joseph. Image via Miracle Messages/YouTube.

Eight of those 20 have led to stable housing.

But the organization has much bigger plans.

Their goal is to reunite 1% of the world’s homeless population — that’s over 1 million people — by 2021. That may seem lofty, but considering how much they've already accomplished, it's not impossible.

Over 5,000 people have already reached out wanting to start chapters of Miracle Messages in their own communities.

There are still a few kinks to work out, like having a clear model for how to get consent, record, and upload videos to the proper channels, but people are motivated. These reunions are making so many lives better, homeless and non-homeless alike. The more people who can be brought back to their families, the more people will find their way home.

If you'd like to help this volunteer-based organization, you can donate to their site and learn more about volunteering here.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Actions speak far louder than words.

It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.

Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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