Did you know? Director’s Story pt. 1

22728FE7-3A1A-443C-A6C8-7DF8ACBB379F.jpegDid you know?

I would like to start sharing my story now about my experience with homelessness, what I did to survive & how hard I tried to make my homelessness Invisible to the people around me. I’ll be doing short stories periodically.

This is March 2016
Tower District
Fresno Ca

At this time I was offered a room in a back garage that was being converted into a small studio. I was already attending CMAC (Community Media Access Collaborative). How I got in is another story lol.
I was always hungry & always asking staff for food or their leftovers from lunch. One day Cesar (staff) walked in from lunch carrying a lunch bag. “I’m hungry, what we got today” I asked. “I’m sorry, it’s all gone, I was just tossing out trash” cesar said.
My stomach was like “Damnnnnnn”
I said Hangry “what do I need to do to get some food”
Cesar response “you have all the tools you need here, make a food show, then you will always eat”.
That’s exactly what I did.
I wrote my proposal for the show & got the approval to do it.
I was nervous because I needed a team to be able to put it together.
Anita (a lady at cmac & my angel) helped me on my last show UGM (that story another time) but that was at the studio. This was going to be on location. Anita and I grabbed 2 cameras & mics then walked down Fulton street and asked restaurants if we could film a food show. I asked for 4 different entrees of their best plates and we would taste test it and film as we ate and gave our opinions on food.
You see, this would benefit both of us. They would get a show on TV and I would get food to take with me.
Problem solved 👍🏼.

I named the TV show “Fresno Eatz”
I got a big crew to help me out and we then went out to local community owned restaurants and filmed the show.
We all ate good🤗.

This photo was at one location in Tower district. As you see, I look far from “homeless”. I would get ready in the bathroom at CMAC. I would get my hair and make up done by a friend at CMAC & dress the “I’m not homeless” part to stay Invisible about my homelessness.
I did this because, if someone knew I was homeless, they would treat me differently, so I would hide it as best as I could. Doing that drained me. Why couldn’t I just be me?
Why couldn’t I just be an individual that needed help.
When people started to find out, they would ask me if I were a drug addict or alcoholic. I responded “No”. That’s when they assumed I wanted to be homeless. 😓
That’s why I started interviewing our street families so the community can understand who we are and why we became homeless.

That’s how “Fresno Eatz” tv show started & how I was able to get food to survive.

Thank you CMAC for not throwing me out when you found me hiding out in your building. Thank you Cesar for sitting and teaching me the skills I needed. Thank you CMAC crew for all their hard work on set. Thank you Anita, you did so much and was my rock during my toughest times. Thank you Myisha for making me look good 🤗 hair & makeup.
Thank you Michael for helping me escape my homeless reality. He is another Angel that helped me through my tough times.

Trying to survive homelessness in Fresno Ca is very hard. Trying to hide & fake your not homeless is exhausting.
Never judge a book by its cover.

We are Homeless
We are Human
We are Not Invisible
~Dez~
#fresnoeatz #homelessinfresno #homelesslivesmatter #tvshow #shoplocal #supportlocal #howisurvivedhunger
#endhunger #endhomlessness

Toys and Joys for Girls and Boys

WANI is again taking out toys to children living on Motel drive for our 4th Annual Toys and Joys for Girls and Boys!

December 23 is the day Santa delivers toys throughout the Motels on Motel Drive. We drive from location to location and spend about 30 min or so gift giving, taking pics with Santa, and serving hot chocolate  and pastries.  After the delivery on Motel drive, if we have enough toys we will drive to an apartment complex and bless the children there. This is what makes the day so long, but well worth it!

Donation Drop Off Locations:

St. James Church, 4147 East Dakota, Fresno, Mon.-Fri. from 9:30am-1:30pm, 559-439-5011

The Big Red Church (First Congregational Church), 2131 Van Ness Avenue, Fresno, Mon.-Fri. from 9:00am-3:00p.m., and Sun. 11:30am-1:30p.m.

Rio Mesa Insurance, 3134 Willow Street, Suite #102, Clovis, 9:00am-3:00pm

Regency Properties, 331 West Shields Ave, Fresno, 9:00am-3:30pm

Gift Wrapping Parties

Wrapping parties are December 14 and 20. We wrap all the gifts and organize them in gender and age groups, while drinking hot chocolate and cider with delicious desserts.

If you are interested in helping deliver toys to homes also please let us know at info@wanif.org

Donations can also be made for the purchase of toys here:

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

Toy drives often exclude children of certain ages, as the cut off age is usually 14, leaving out those who are 15-17. 

This 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 elsewhere, 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, we have continued to spearhead the effort annually, connecting with families we see throughout the year.

We encourage you 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.  I’m often asked why we 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.

November Potluck in the Park

Enjoy a delicious  lunch with our street family on Saturday, November 23, 11am-2pm at Eaton Plaza, the park next to the Fresno Water Tower (map Fresno Water Tower for direction) and Downtown Fresno Library. The lunch starts at noon.

 

Potluck in the Park is the 3rd Sat of every month and is an opportunity to provide community and friendship with our street family meals by sharing in a meal and conversation. The event is fun and casual and children and leashed pets are welcome! 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.

For this month, several food trucks will be on hand to provide food.

For this months events, we need donations of these items:

  • Plates, forks, and cutlery
  • soft drinks and other drinks

And, of course, we welcome you to come, help serve, and enjoy a meal with our street family

With your support we can share a meal with our forgotten community.

To volunteer, donate, or inquire about Potluck in the Park please email us at Info@wanif.org
If you would like to donate, you can by dropping off items needed or donate to our PayPal

 

 

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)