Blog

September Potluck in the Park

We welcome you to our September Potluck in the Park on Saturday, September 21, 11am-2pm at Eaton Plaza, the park next to the Fresno Water Tower (map Fresno Water Tower for direction) and Downtown Fresno Library.

See and share our Facebook event invite here

Potluck in the Park is the 3rd Sat of every month. We invite the community to cook a homemade meal and come sit with us as we eat great food and enjoy good conversations with our street families.
This months theme is Hispanic Food.
If you would like to cook a dish and join us, you are more than welcome! To volunteer or contribute food or other items for the potluck, contact Irma at 614-8001.
If you would like to donate, you can by dropping off items needed or donate to our PayPal

 

We would love for you to come join us!

Potluck

Project H20: Help provide life sustaining water to our street family

Water is Life.

And it’s a huge need for our street family. Without adequate, regular access to water, our street family deal with lack of proper hydration. Summer can be an especially dangerous time, with increase risks of heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and other dehydration related health problems.

We need partnerships, starting this spring time, with community members to provide water to our street family. Plan with your church, group, or family and friends to raise donations of water or donate financially directly to We Are Not Invisible. 

Fill out our interest form if you would like to get involved in Project H2O

Donate towards water here (let us know the donation is for water)

Services for Baby Zar’ie

Please join Akifa, Denny, and Naszariah as they honor and say goodbye to Baby Zar’ie 💜💛💜

The family would like to keep the colors bright and ask no dark colors worn. She said, “It’s a celebration of the time we had with her.”

Services will be held at the First Congregational Church (The Big Red Church), 2131 North Van Ness, then we will be at Mountain View Celebration for graveside services.

The family would like you to join them back at the family would like to invite everyone back to the Big Red Church for repast.

💜🦋💛🦋💜🦋💛🦋💜🦋💛🦋💜🦋💛🦋

Rest In Heaven Baby Zar’ie

#babyzar’ie #homelesslivesmatter #restinheaven

Help Needed to Fund Services for Baby Zar’ie

We are raising money for memorial and funeral services for Baby Naszar’ie, which will be held on Friday, August 2, starting at 10am at The First Congregational Church (Big Red Church, 2131 North Van Ness Avenue). Your help is needed and welcome to meet our goal.

We are asking for you help to give Baby Zar’ie a proper burial. Her mother and father went through so much to try to keep their children safe, only to lose a precious Angel that they only got to be with for three months.

The community has been gracious and kind, so we are almost halfway to our goal.

To donate, go to our Go Fund Me page here or donate directly to Fresno Funeral Home.

Background:
Akifa and Denny, her parents, became homeless in October 2018 in Fresno, CA. She looked for help from a local shelter for youth (18-24). At this time she was three months pregnant with her second child. Her first daughter at the time was one year-old. Mother, father (disabled), and daughter were place in the shelter in the end of October 2018. In November 2018, she was asked to leave the shelter with her child. With no where to go she was sleeping on the streets of Fresno, on a waiting list for available housing.

During a storm, We Are Not Invisible found Akifa and child in the rain,  tucked into a sleeping bag trying to stay warm. We immediately took action and contacted the shelter that kicked her out and raised funds for a Motel room for her family until the shelter would have availability again. When she found out it might be a couple weeks, Akifa and her family was sent out of state to a friends in order to keep her daughter safe.  Akifa and family returned  back to Fresno when they received a voucher for an apartment. With the lack of low income housing in Fresno, the battle to find a place was very difficult. Meanwhile, Akifa had to be back on the streets while still waiting for an opening at the shelter. This went on for months, with many agencies and organizations trying to find shelter or permanent place for Akifa and family went unfound.

In March 2019, Akifa and family were taken to Fresno Rescue Mission for shelter. Here, the father was put in one shelter and mother and child in another.

April 3, 2019 Akifa had a C-section with her second child. Five days after birth, Akifa was sent back to the shelter with both babies. 
During their stay, they were asked to leave at 8 am and not return until 7 pm. This left Akifa once again in the streets with now two children.
We Are Not Invisible asked for Akifa to be able to rest due to a high risk surgery as the doctor’s orders stated that she required six to eight weeks bed rest. 
This request was not accepted and Akifa had to continuously leave everyday to struggle with the pain of surgery, feed and keep warm two children as she would walk the streets of Fresno waiting for 7 p.m. to come.
April 24, 2019  Akifa was walking downtown Fresno, after being told to leave the shelter for the day, when she collapsed. The ambulance was called and Akifa was rushed to the hospital. The hospital found that Akifa had blood clots in her lungs and was close to dying. This was found to be the result of her walking everyday with a one year-old and a three week-old (by this time), a car seat, stroller and two bags with clothes and food for the kids. 
May 1, 2019, Akifa was released from the hospital. The shelter where she had been staying stated she could return, but she was only allowed one child. Akifa reached out to friends for help again. One shelter had given a week voucher at a motel. She made a choice to let friends take care of the children until she was allowed back into the shelter or found an apartment.
June 18, 2019, the youth shelter called and had the family room open. Akifa and family went to the shelter. During her stay at the shelter, she became concerned about the unsanitary situation and having to leave the shelter in this heat; 100  degrees plus. She was told these concerns would be addressed. No one returned calls or allowed her to stay indoors with the children. 
July 13, 2019,  11 a.m. Akifa was finally transported to a motel.
July 14, 2019, 8:30 a.m. Akifa woke to her baby cold. She immediately called 911 and preformed CPR until the Ambulance arrived.
The EMT & Hospital tried to bring Baby Zar’ie back.
8:45 a.m. Baby Zar’ie was pronounced deceased.

I am asking for you help to give Baby Zar’ie a proper burial. This mother and father went through so much to try to keep their children safe, only to lose a precious Angel that they only got to be with for three months.

Naszar’ie Maray Butler
Sunrise – April 3 2019
Sunset – July 14 2019

Give A Basket Full Of Love- WANI 1st Annual Easter Drive!

Help bring a basket full of love to homeless children on Motel Drive.

We Are Not Invisible is launching our first annual Easter Basket Drive for underprivileged children in an effort to make their Easter bright and fulfiling. Help us by donating pre-made baskets or items to add to baskets.

Drop Locations:

713 East Andrews Avenue, Fresno 93704

4946 East Yale Avenue, Suite 101-B, Fresno 93727

337 Ramona Street, Orange Cove 93446

5420 West Palo Alto Avenue, Fresno 93722

1560 Fulton Street #104, Fresno 93721

**Donations can also be purchased and sent to We Are Not Invisible through our Basket Of Love Amazon wish list here!**

Donation Wish List:
baskets/plastic buckets
Easter grass
plastic eggs
wrapped candy
Peeps marshmallows
small toys
bubbles
jump ropes
kids’ arts and crafts supplies
small stuffer animals
coloring/ activity books
games/flash cards
cellophane sheets/rolls
monetary donations

Easter Basket wrapping party- Saturday, April 13, 12-5pm at Preferred Medical Solutions, 2505 West Shaw Avenue, Suite 150

Easter Basket Outreach- Saturday, April 20, 8:00am. Sign up to get meet up information.

Sign up to volunteer at Good For All here!!

Click here to download the flyer below (to print or share online)

Sock Drive: A thousand pairs of socks in a week? We can do it, Fresno!

 

1000 pairs of socks drive.
1 week.
Can we do it Fresno?

Rain has been coming down and our street families need your help.
We have many many of our less fortunate without socks and shoes due to the rain. Some of them can not walk because their feet are so cold and frozen.
The cold is painful.
If you would like to donate please contact us at homelessinfresno@gmail.com or call (559) 898-2551.

Socks can also be ordered and shipped to We Are Not Invisible via our Amazon Wishlist here
amazon

Toys and Joys provides gifts for overlooked children

Director Desiree Martinez is asking for the community’s help to provide toys to homeless children who are often overlooked during the holiday toy drives. The toy drive will continue through Thursday, December 20 and toys will given out in an outreach on Saturday, December 22. Get more information here.

We Are Not Invisible has launched our annual Toys and Joy for Girls and Boys drive to take toys to homeless children along Motel Drive. Dez ssays that these children often are not included in other toys drives because of their parents inability to participate in the programs.

“During our other outreach efforts, I’d see the amount of children living in motels and in the streets, and I was shocked to find out that they were not receiving gifts for the holidays, “says Martinez. “This is who I thought would receive the gifts that I donated to organizations that held toy drives. I called around to many churches and organizations and asked if any go out into the community to deliver gifts. I found out that they were more than happy to add the children to the list to receive a gift but they did not deliver gifts. I knew myself that these families were homeless and living in motels. They did not have transportation to go to churches or other toy outreach locations and definitely did not have enough bus money to go to and from any toy donations spots.”

Martinez says that she also noticed that the toy drives exclude children of certain ages. She noted that the cut off age is 14, leaving out those who 15-17.

These observations inspired the Toys and Joys For Girls and Boys toy drive and outreach.

“I was really shocked about this, but instead of being sad, I decided that, instead of donating the gifts, I could go deliver them myself. So, I called a couple of friends with friends and set up a day to drive from motel to motel and deliver Christmas gifts to all the children and teens. I had a “Santa” volunteer (kids love Santa) and I had a couple of local motorcycle clubs volunteer to ride their bikes along with us (kids love motorcycles). So, with Santa, motorcycles, and gifts, the kids had a very happy, blessed day to remember.

“We also had some of the community reach out and join us in our holiday toy caravan to deliver food and clothing. This is what community holiday spirit is about to me. It was a beautiful sight to see the amount of people from many different areas of Fresno come together for our forgotten community.”

Since then, Martinez has continue to spearhead the effort, connecting with families they connect with throughout the year.

Doing the toy drives hasn’t been easy.

“Last year, when I went to pick up the toys from the toy drive pick up locations, we had empty boxes. I was in shock and just cried. I had no idea what to do or say so I went online to cancel the hand out. Many people came together at once.  I was, once again, in shock. I couldn’t believe it. I was on an emotional rollercoaster and happy to see what the community came together to do. We definitely had enough toys that, in addition to the children on our list, we were able to find a complex  dedicated to previously homeless families waiting for their own permanent home and bless them as well. Even though everything worked out at the last second, it was a very very emotional ride. This year, I am reaching out out further online than I had last year.”

Martinez started a Go Fund Me caampaign (go here for more details) to make it easier for people to donate and to help raise more support for the toy drive. Donations can also be made through Paypal here:

There are also drop off locations at MB Clothing and Apparel, 857 East Shields Avenue, Palo Alto Palace, 5430 West Palo Alto, and Fresno Ohana Pantry, 1560 Fulton Street.

Martinez encourages donors to donate to the age groups often overlooked: children up to three and teenagers. “When people donate, it’s usually for children ages four through twelve.”  The organization provided a list of suggested gifts, such as movie gift cards and perfume or books for toddlers on this post.

Martinez says that she is asked why they include the older teens. “I say ‘why not?’ These teens are homeless. Also, they have a huge responsibility on them. They help cook, clean, and raise their siblings, too. They deserve to be appreciated in every way. They are also our future.”

We Are Not Invisible also welcomes volunteers to help with wrapping and giving out the presents. More information is here

Volunteers and Gifts needed for toy drive!

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Volunteer sign up form

Toys and Joys for Girls and Boys

Join the 20 day challenge to collect enough toys to provide for all of the homeless children living on Motel Drive.

We are collecting toys that will be given to homeless children that Desiree has encountered on Motel Drive.

DONATION DATES: tba

WRAPPING PARTY: tba

GIFT HAND OUT: tba

What we need:

Businesses, churches, and other locations to serve as drop off locations

Donations of toys for children of all ages 0-18
Note: Often, children ages 0-3 and 13-17 are overlooked. We need gifts for those ages as well. Here are suggestions for gifts for children of these ages-
0-3: Educational stuffed animals, educational books, educational games, training juice cups, blankets, socks, hygiene kits, playmats.
13-17: Movie tickets, headphones, cologne. perfume, mp3 player, boardgames, hair dryer/curling iron, hygiene kits, gift cards,

You are welcome donated money towards gifts by sending money via Paypal

Volunteers to help wrap gifts  and help deliver toys.

GET INVOLVED! SIGN UP HERE!!

For more information, please email homelessinfresno@gmail.com or call 559-898-2551

  last year’s event:

47150935_2143614285900198_3417806657713864704_o

Founder Desiree’s Story

Founder Desiree Martinez’s Story

…and why We Are Not Invisible was founded.

Hello,  I am Desiree.  On July 11, 2016, I moved into a permanent place I could finally call home. Prior to that I was homeless. I went from my car to a shelter back to my car and was also allowed to stay at friends from time to time. This went on for a year and half. I was not on alcohol or drugs. My homelessness happened due to the lack of funds I receive from SSD (disability). I was put on SSD in 2010 when my spinal cord was severed and I had a spinal fusion.

I had been very depressed and had suicidal thoughts. I found an organization (media school) in my city that allowed me to be there from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. everyday.

This was my safe haven and I was able to keep my mind off my life out there and focus on positive things. While at the media school, I learned how to edit, film, and create shows. I began to use the school and what I learned to get by making shows or interviews for the Fresno community.  I also started Fresno Eatz, a food show, in order to get free food. This helped me, so I wanted to help others out there and use the tools to raise awareness  and help end hunger in our community.

While being homeless, I found that many churches and organizations did not help. I found myself calling everyday for shelter and food. The only answer I would get was “We do not have any funding available right now, I can give you another number you can try.” Local food banks were so far from each other that I never have bus fare to go get food. I am on SSDI and in California we do not receive any type of food allowance such as SNAP. It was very depressing, not only not having a permanent place, but also not having any food to eat.

When I finally got into a room I could barely afford ( my rent is 95% of my check), I continued to go out and raise awareness on the lack of funding and help we have in the field for  our forgotten part of the community. I used the skills I learned at the media school and social media to reach out to the community and get more people involved with our less fortunate.

I started to hand out water because that was all I could afford ($2.50 case) and the lack of access to water throughout our community streets was an urgent necessity. That is now a yearly project called Project H2O.

During my time out everyday, I found more and more items needed in order to just survive everyday out in the streets, We started a hygiene drive, coat drive, and blanket drive. This has now turned into Project Share The Warmth, which runs through our cold winter months.

On April 9, 2017, I completed 365 days, every day, in the field with the street families.  I would go out everyday, regardless of weather, to hand out water, food, hygiene kits or just go out to communicate and just hang out with our less fortunate.

It’s not always about the food. It’s about communication and rehumanizing our chronically homeless and helping our less fortunate.

Please take a moment and  view our short documentary on We are not Invisible.

We are Not Invisible  is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Your contribution is tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.