Category Archives: Uncategorized

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
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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: December 1-19
Current drop off locations:
MB Clothing and Apparel, 857 East Shields Avenue, Fresno

Palo Alto Palace, 5430 West Palo Alto, Fresno

Fresno Ohana Pantry, 1560 Fulton Street, Fresno

WRAPPING PARTY: December 20

GIFT HAND OUT: December 22

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

 

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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.

Benefit Concert and Art Show for WANI

A night of original music and songs from Tom Petty’s Wildflower album.
Musicians include:
Hazey Autumn with original music
Allen Goyne and Ruth Kehler
Terry Barnes
Chris Seitz
Curtis Buettner
and more
There is also an art show, including the Tom Petty murals to sign, by Brandi Nuse-Villegas from 2-8pm.
There is no charge, but we are asking for donations to benefit We Are Not Invisible/ Homeless In Fresno, a local 501 c (3) organization committed to partnering with our street family. Tom Petty was a long time supporter of homeless organizations like Midnight Mission and I’m excited to support our local street family and organization that I love with music from a band I love.

Check, cash, and cards accepted.
Donations are tax deductible.
In addition to monetary donations, we welcome donations of supplies for our street family, including socks, hygiene products, sleeping bags, water, etc. Go to WANIF.com for more information and to donate online.

Tom Petty (4)

Funeral services for J.D.

We Are Not Invisible Foundation will be holding a funeral service for J.D.
Saturday, January 20, 2018, 10:00 a.m.
at Belmont Memorial Park, 201 N Teilman Ave.

J.D. was found dead where he slept on January 18, 2017. Currently, there are no leads into the investigation into his death.After one year, we are honored to finally lay our kind soul, J.D. to rest. The funeral is open to the community and we welcome all to come and pay their respects to J.D.For more information, email info@wanif.org.

See the Abc30 news story, “Homelesss man murdered nearly a year ago finally getting proper burial”

A life that has touched the
hearts of other lives on forever
Matthew 25:23

 

Belmont Memorial Park, where our kind soul J.D. will be laid to rest

Standing in Solidarity

#homelesslivesmatter  #TeamFresno #keysnotcuffsfresno #Solidaritywithhomeless

We would like to thank those who came to stand in solidarity with our homeless in Fresno at the Stand in Solidarity With The Homeless Camp Out Protest, September 29-30.

More to come.