© Trupti Patel Doshi, 2/25/2011, Amplify

I was inspired by an article in The New York Times today about a new program started by three recent college graduates that gave four homeless men prepaid cellphones so that they could share their experiences on Twitter. “They created a Web site called Underheard in New York, whose goal is to “help homeless New Yorkers speak for themselves through Twitter.”

One of the founders stated, “We had the idea to use social media to help out the homeless….One goal was to increase the interaction between homeless people and the community around them.” Each of the participants have over 3,500 followers on Twitter.

The program doesn’t provide the homeless participants with tangible needs, such as a place to live or money, but it does give them a powerful outlet to amplify their voices and be heard. Consequently, they have received hundreds of messages of encouragement, as well as opportunities including job interviews to help them move forward.

When “asked to reflect on how Twitter had affected his life,” one of the homeless men said that “‘just the fact that somebody is listening’ had helped him persevere. He said, ‘I’ve received what I need to keep going.'”


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