TPEPost Hero of the Month: Mark Horvath

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By Leslie J. Griffin

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His name does not appear on the marquee of the Apollo Theatre or under any movie credits next to Academy award-winning actor Brad Pitt.  He does not have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, yet he is familiar with the streets because he once called them home.  Mark Horvath, President and CEO of the Invisible People Organization, takes a camera, a bottle of water, a backpack and travels the streets and hidden caves of Los Angeles giving a voice to a population of people who are overlooked on daily basis.  They are known as homeless and seen as invisible.

photo (3)Launched in November 2008, the non-profit organization is a mass social media conduit that exposes the raw and untold stories and perceptions of the social homeless crisis in America.  The goal of the organization is to make invisible people visible and the dialogue that is captured through camera lenses leads to increased dialogue in various communities throughout the world. “I had a great job in the television and syndication industry and I ended up homeless on Hollywood Boulevard”, recalls Mark. “I rebuilt my life back and the economy took a nose dive and a lost a series of jobs and eventually my home. It was a really dark time and I just grabbed the camera and I went out and started interviewing homeless people.”Since the organization’s inception and through Mark’s gift of TV production, he’s been able to create a national presence that has garnered the support of social media giants YouTube and Twitter.  “One day I just said I am going to do what I can do.  My work resonates with people because the government has done a horrible job of educating the general public about homelessness.  The public is getting their information from fundraising materials which is used to raise money. But how the public perceives homelessness comes from the media and this is what my organization is about.”

YouTube donated their home page for a day to the Invisible People Organization and more than 1.6 million people had positive interactions with the homeless. They were able to see and experience daily stories and moving first-hand accounts of struggle and survival that are unmasked by fancy filming and television.  The organization has now reached more than 3.58 million viewers.

photoMark was commissioned by the Canadian government and has traveled 24 cities to help champion and leverage positive relations on the perception of homelessness.  Housing programs have been developed and 40 acres of farmland was donated and is now used to feed 150 people per week. “I always believed that whatever you’re going through to help someone less fortunate and that’s when I decided to put my talents in media and marketing to good use. I was really just trying to keep busy and sometimes you have to create your own purpose to get up in the morning. And the miracle was people actually started watching it.”

It is only befitting that Mark Horvath’s courageous efforts be recognized by the Tipping Point Education Post.  His commitment to humanitarianism and social change is making a difference in the lives of many.  Mark lives by this one rule: never waste a good crisis and there is this magic that happens when you go out and help other people.  Problems do not go away necessarily by helping others but it certainly puts it into perspective and this is what happens when you look at solutions and not problems.”

About Leslie J. Griffin