A new social media page on Facebook is bringing attention to the homeless in America and is trying to match them with their family’s that are searching for them.
Jerrie Dean, who is an advocate for the missing and who is well known for her work through her writing and social networking for Missing Persons of America began to notice there was a large volume of missing people that were also homeless, thus difficult to find by their family members.
A striking photo of a homeless woman taken by a journalist for LA Times that was posted by her daughter who was searching for her, made such a impact on Jerrie that she contacted Robin to learn more. Robin explained to Jerrie that she didn’t know if her mom was dead or alive, until she saw a photo in the newspaper. Although, Robin wasn’t sure it was her mother, Jerrie was as the likeness was unmistakable. She had no doubt that the woman in the photo, was Robin’s mother.
“There are case after case of people that get into a car crash or exhibit a psychotic episode that suddenly disappear without a trace,” said Jerrie. “I went back and did some research on those old stories and began to realize that many of the family’s were getting tips of sightings of these people, and all the sightings were of them sitting in front of a Walmart or in a park; in other words homeless.”
Derick Higgins was one of those cases. He went missing for over a year, until he was found in San Diego earlier this year. He had been living on the streets for the whole year not remembering that he even had a family, let alone they were looking for him. Derick and his family’s reunion story was widely shared on social media.
But, just because these missing are on the streets, doesn’t make them easy to find.
“They are called transients, for a reason. They travel and don’t stay in one place,” said Jerrie. “And many of them have memory issues or are off their medication and have no idea that they have people waiting for them to be found, so they wander and talk with one another to find another shelter or a place to bed down for the night. They don’t stay in one place for very long.”
Robin’s search for her mother after the photo in the LA Times, led her to a Santa Monica shelter where someone with her mother’s name actually stayed there for the night. Robin continues to search for her and wants her mom back and won’t stop till she is able to get to California and start searching for her.
“Mom if your out there, please call me, please come home,” said Robin in her video posted on her Facebook page for her mom.
“I am hoping the new Facebook page will be come a large database of photos of homeless people around America, and family’s can look at these photos and see if their family member is one of them,” said Jerrie. “All the page needs is volunteers that are willing to say hello to a homeless person, ask their name and where they grew up and take their photo and put it on the page. As the Facebook page grows and we have a gallery of photos, I am sure there will be matches, and family’s can be reunited.”
All the cases that Jerrie see are important but there are several she hopes are solved soon. Kathleen Rusnak’s story is one. Kathleen contacted Jerrie for advise on finding her son, Jason. Judging by several video’s he was or still is in San Diego.
“I am hoping with the weather heating up a bit, he will be spending more time at the beach and maybe someone will spot him and take a photo and post it, and he can be reunited with his mom that is so desperately searching for him,” said Jerrie. “I would be so happy for his mom to be able to reunite with him.”
Then there is Leah Hill. She has been missing for several weeks and her family believes she may be in a manic state and doesn’t even know that her family is searching for her because of her bipolar condition.
“She just recently became homeless, so she is going to be looking a lot like her photos,” said Jerrie. “All we need is one person that will recognizes her and let us know where and her family can come get her.”
The Missing Homeless in America Facebook page debut on Wednesday and is ready for photos to be posted.
“I will also be linking it with Pinvolve that will display a full gallery of the photos as they get posted, which will make it very easy for anyone to look at the faces and see if they recognize anyone,” said Jerrie. “We just need to get those photos in and appreciate all that can help us do that.”
If you would like to help contribute, please go to Missing Homeless in America Facebook page and like the page and share a photo with the location where you took it.