I’d like to say that I found Ann Marie in Chicago, but the truth is that she found me. Ann Marie uses social media to escape from her world and connect with others. When I arrived in the Windy City I received a tweet from @padschicago and the next day we arranged to meet in a train station.
Ann Marie is not the first person experiencing homelessness to find me via social media. As the face of homelessness changes, and social media continues to expand, I believe we will see many other people without homes on twitter, blogs, and Facebook. Service providers should pay attention to this evolution and understand that social media can be much more than tool for marketing. Twitter and Facebook can serve as an entry point for services or a vehicle for providing virtual case management.
Social media may have the potential to change the way we provide services, but it will not close the gaps that exist in our safety net. As social services become more specialized and targeted to specific populations, some of those who desperately need help simply cannot figure out where they fit in. Ann Marie would like to get off the streets, but she is falling through the gaps in the social service safety net.
ChicagoNow blogger Megan Cottrell tagged along when I met Ann Marie and wrote a very powerful post. We were also on a San Francisco radio show LIVE FROM THE LEFT COAST with Angie Coiro. And right now as I type Ann Marie is on a Greyhound headed to Los Angeles to speak with me at 140 Conference.
Truly Anne Marie is a special person simply trying to survive. She honestly shares the challenges she faces everyday and talks about how she uses social media. Although much of her story is sad at least for a few days she is on a vacation from homelessness.