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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.'

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

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.

Tory Burch

Courtesy of Tory Burch

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This March marks one year since the start of the pandemic… and it's been an incredibly difficult year: Over 500,000 people have died and hundreds of thousands have lost their jobs. But the pandemic's economic downturn has been disproportionately affecting women because they are more likely to work in hard-hit industries, such as hospitality or entertainment, and many of them have been forced to leave their jobs due to the lack of childcare.

But throughout all that hardship, women have, over and over again, found ways to help one another and solve problems.

"Around the world, women have stepped up and found ways to help where it is needed most," says Tory Burch, an entrepreneur who started her own business in 2004.

Burch knows a thing or two about empowering women: After seeing the many obstacles that women in business face — even before the pandemic — she created the Tory Burch Foundation in 2009 to empower women entrepreneurs.

And now, for International Women's Day, her company is launching a global campaign with Upworthy to celebrate the women around the world who give back and create real change in their communities.

"I hope the creativity and resilience of these women, and the amazing ways they have found to have real impact, will inspire and energize others as much as they have me," Burch says.

This year's Empowered Women certainly are inspiring:

Shalini SamtaniCourtesy of Shalini Samtani

Take, for example, Shalini Samtani. When her daughter was diagnosed with a rare immune disorder, she spent a lot of time in the hospital, which caused her to quickly realize that there wasn't a single company in the toy industry servicing the physical or emotional needs of the 3 million hospitalized children across America every year. She was determined to change that — so she created The Spread the Joy Foundation to deliver free play kits to pediatric patients all around the country.

Varsha YajmanCourtesy of Varsha Yajman

Varsha Yajman is another one of this year's nominees. She is just 18 years old, and yet she has been diligently fighting to build awareness and action for climate justice for the last seven years by leading school strikes, working as a paralegal with Equity Generations Lawyers, and speaking to CEOs from Siemen's and several big Australian banks at AGMs.

Caitlin MurphyCourtesy of Caitlin Murphy

Caitlin Murphy, meanwhile, stepped up in a big way during the pandemic by pivoting her business — Global Gateway Logistics — to secure and transport over 2 million masks to hospitals and senior care facilities across the country. She also created the Gateway for Good program, which purchased and donated 10,000 KN95 masks for local small businesses, charities, cancer patients and their families, immunocompromised, and churches in the area.

Simone GordonCourtesy of Simone Gordon

Simone Gordon, a domestic violence survivor and single mom, wanted to pay it forward after she received help getting essentials and tuition assistance — so she created the Instagram account @TheBlackFairyGodMotherOfficial and nonprofit to provide direct assistance to families in need. During the pandemic alone, they have raised over $50,000 for families and they have provided emergency assistance — in the form of groceries — for numerous women and families of color.

Victoria SanusiCourtesy of Victoria Sanusi

Victoria Sanusi started Black Gals Livin' with her friend Jas and the podcast has been an incredibly powerful way of destigmatizing mental health for numerous listeners. The podcast quickly surpassed a million listens, was featured on Michaela Coel's "I May Destroy You," won podcast of the year at the Brown Sugar Awards, and was named one of Elle Magazine's best podcasts of 2020.

And Upworthy and the Tory Burch are just getting started. They are still searching the globe for more extraordinary women who are making an impact in their communities.

Do you know one? If you do, nominate her now. If she's selected, she could receive $5,000 to give to a nonprofit of her choice through the Tory Burch Foundation. Submissions are being accepted on a rolling basis — and one Empowered woman will be selected each month starting in April.

Nominate her now at www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen.

Like millions of others, I tuned in last night to watch Oprah Winfrey's interview with (former) Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Although watching "The Crown" has admittedly piqued my curiosity about the Royal Family, I've never had any particular interest in following the drama in real life. As inconsequential as the un-royaling of Harry and Meghan is to me personally, it's a historically and socially significant development.

The story touches so many hot buttons at once—power, wealth, tradition, sexism, racism, colonialism, family drama, freedom, security, and the media. But as I sat and watched the first hour of just Oprah and Meghan Markle talking, I was struck by the simple significance of what I was seeing.

Here were two Black women, one who had battled sexism and racism in her industry and broke countless barriers to create her own empire, and one who has battled racism and sexism to protect her babies, whose royal lineage can be traced back through 1,200 years of rule over the British Empire. And the conversation these women were having had the power to take down—or at least do real damage to—one of the longest-standing monarchies in the world.

Whoa.

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Tory Burch

Courtesy of Tory Burch

True

This March marks one year since the start of the pandemic… and it's been an incredibly difficult year: Over 500,000 people have died and hundreds of thousands have lost their jobs. But the pandemic's economic downturn has been disproportionately affecting women because they are more likely to work in hard-hit industries, such as hospitality or entertainment, and many of them have been forced to leave their jobs due to the lack of childcare.

But throughout all that hardship, women have, over and over again, found ways to help one another and solve problems.

"Around the world, women have stepped up and found ways to help where it is needed most," says Tory Burch, an entrepreneur who started her own business in 2004.

Burch knows a thing or two about empowering women: After seeing the many obstacles that women in business face — even before the pandemic — she created the Tory Burch Foundation in 2009 to empower women entrepreneurs.

And now, for International Women's Day, her company is launching a global campaign with Upworthy to celebrate the women around the world who give back and create real change in their communities.

"I hope the creativity and resilience of these women, and the amazing ways they have found to have real impact, will inspire and energize others as much as they have me," Burch says.

This year's Empowered Women certainly are inspiring:

Shalini SamtaniCourtesy of Shalini Samtani

Take, for example, Shalini Samtani. When her daughter was diagnosed with a rare immune disorder, she spent a lot of time in the hospital, which caused her to quickly realize that there wasn't a single company in the toy industry servicing the physical or emotional needs of the 3 million hospitalized children across America every year. She was determined to change that — so she created The Spread the Joy Foundation to deliver free play kits to pediatric patients all around the country.

Varsha YajmanCourtesy of Varsha Yajman

Varsha Yajman is another one of this year's nominees. She is just 18 years old, and yet she has been diligently fighting to build awareness and action for climate justice for the last seven years by leading school strikes, working as a paralegal with Equity Generations Lawyers, and speaking to CEOs from Siemen's and several big Australian banks at AGMs.

Caitlin MurphyCourtesy of Caitlin Murphy

Caitlin Murphy, meanwhile, stepped up in a big way during the pandemic by pivoting her business — Global Gateway Logistics — to secure and transport over 2 million masks to hospitals and senior care facilities across the country. She also created the Gateway for Good program, which purchased and donated 10,000 KN95 masks for local small businesses, charities, cancer patients and their families, immunocompromised, and churches in the area.

Simone GordonCourtesy of Simone Gordon

Simone Gordon, a domestic violence survivor and single mom, wanted to pay it forward after she received help getting essentials and tuition assistance — so she created the Instagram account @TheBlackFairyGodMotherOfficial and nonprofit to provide direct assistance to families in need. During the pandemic alone, they have raised over $50,000 for families and they have provided emergency assistance — in the form of groceries — for numerous women and families of color.

Victoria SanusiCourtesy of Victoria Sanusi

Victoria Sanusi started Black Gals Livin' with her friend Jas and the podcast has been an incredibly powerful way of destigmatizing mental health for numerous listeners. The podcast quickly surpassed a million listens, was featured on Michaela Coel's "I May Destroy You," won podcast of the year at the Brown Sugar Awards, and was named one of Elle Magazine's best podcasts of 2020.

And Upworthy and the Tory Burch are just getting started. They are still searching the globe for more extraordinary women who are making an impact in their communities.

Do you know one? If you do, nominate her now. If she's selected, she could receive $5,000 to give to a nonprofit of her choice through the Tory Burch Foundation. Submissions are being accepted on a rolling basis — and one Empowered woman will be selected each month starting in April.

Nominate her now at www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen.

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Woody Guthrie sang about this little-known piece of history.

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Few child actors ever get to star in an award-winning film, much less win a prestigious award for their performance. That fact appeared to hit home for 8-year-old Alan Kim, as he broke down in tears accepting his Critics' Choice Award for Best Young Actor/Actress, making for one of the sweetest moments in awards show history.

Kim showed up to the awards (virtually, of course) decked out in a tuxedo, and his parents had even laid out a red carpet in their entryway to give him a taste of the real awards show experience. When his name was announced as the Critics' Choice winner for his role in the film "Minari," his reaction was priceless.

Grinning from ear to ear, Kim started off his acceptance speech by thanking "the critics who voted" and his family. But as soon as he started naming his family members, he burst into tears. "Oh my goodness, I'm crying," he said. Through sobs, he kept going with his list, naming members of the cast, the production company, and the crew that worked on the film.

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