Bicycle based outreach on the streets of KC to befriend homeless people and share their stories on all-night radio marathon
National homelessness radio marathon hosted in Kansas City to partner with Corinna West to use bicycle outreach to meet homeless people on the streets of KC. We are interested in sharing their stories in an all night radio broadcast to raise awareness and to seek long term solutions to the problem of homelessness.
Kansas City, Missouri, February 2, 2010. The Homelessness Marathon happens only once each year, in one city across the United States. This year Kansas City has been selected to host the event, which will be broadcast on over 110 radio stations across the United States. It is an all night radio broadcast featuring the voices and stories of the estimated 15,000 homeless people in Kansas City along with live call-ins from across the United States.
The 14th Annual Homelessness Marathon will originate from Kansas City, MO, starting at 6 p.m., central time, on the evening of February 23, 2011, and ending at 8 a.m., central time, on the morning of February 24th. We will originate from the HopeFaith site at 705 Virginia Ave. in KC. Our hosts on the air will be Kansas City’s 100,000 watt community radio station, KKFI.
The theme of this year’s Homelessness Marathon is “Why not do the right thing?” The Marathon promises no magic bullets or any changes at all. It is not a fund raising effort. It is a consciousness raising effort to show the depth and causes of homelessness in our community. The program will discuss the views from the street of people who have been homeless, are currently homeless, or at risk of being homeless.
Corinna West, founder of local Kansas City arts and mental health advocacy business Wellness Wordworks, is partnering with the Homelessness Marathon to use bicycling to spread the storytelling opportunity to street based communities in Kansas City.
“I ride everywhere I go in Kansas City and have come to meet many of the homeless people in Kansas City,” says West, a former Olympic Judo Team Member. “I used to ride across the Heart of America Bridge every day and come greasing down the hill off the bridge into North Kansas City. The guys waiting at the food drop there on the corner there nicknamed me, ‘Bullet.’”
West’s role will be to contact homeless people that are on the streets and not involved with formal support agencies. “Outreach by bicycle is very different than using a vehicle because people know I’m out there in the cold and the rain and the snow just like they are. The bicycle is an equalizer,” West said.
West has been homeless herself and is also a Certified Peer Specialist, a person with special training about sharing her recovery story to help other people move forward in their lives.
“With all the budget cuts in the mental health system, we have to start looking at less expensive and less formal ways to help people,” she says. West also advocates for the use of peer support and low cost alternatives to hospitalization provided by other people who are also in recovery from mental illness.
The program will be discussing Dignity Village, a tent city in Portland, OR, which is one among several possible models to address homelessness. This community allows people who are unable to find housing to meet their basic needs in a stable, sustainable, sanitary environment free of drugs and violence. Seattle also has a moving Tent City operated by Share Wheel that provides emergency shelter and safety for people unable to find indoor shelter.
Since homelessness is an emergency problem, tent cities are a temporary and emergency solution that spurs local investments in more permanent indoor homeless shelters. Visible homeless people are much safer and more able to get help than invisible people. (Photo credits: Brian Gallmeyer and Christian Wade)
Contact: Corinna West
eight one six-392-6074