Putting Homelessness in Reverse

With the exception of Leslie, everyone’s favorite cross-dressing perennial mayoral candidate with his own iPhone app, the homeless in Austin don’t have much of a net presence. With more and more of our interaction taking place on the interwebs, this digital divide excludes the homeless from public discourse – and our community as a whole – in a pretty big way.

Enter Tom Baum, founder of Homeless Coach and all-around awesomely-named dude. Tom’s starting Homeless Coach as a way to help the homeless get back on their feet by providing that much-needed sense of community. The goal is to provide the homeless with a network of good connections and, in his words, “a life transition plan that the individual and community own and continue executing.” They hope to start as early as next month.

In order to accomplish its goals, Homeless Coach will consist of an intensive six-month program. After getting sponsorship, homeless enrollees will live in the titular Homeless Coach – an RV retrofitted with a ton of high-tech gadgetry to keep its occupants connected to the outside world.  While living in the RV, enrollees will receive life coaching to plan their transition from homelessness. They’ll remain connected with sponsors through weekly meetings and videoconferences, and stream live webcasts to engage with the community as a whole.

Looking through Homeless Coach’s press, you can tell Tom is buzzing with ideas. Every facet of every part of the process is laid out in intricate detail and explained in a complex diagram. It’s a lot to take in at once, and a convincing argument to pitch in. The amount of collaborative effort required to get things going will be a proving ground for the sense of community Tom hopes to bring to the homeless.

You can help make it happen! You can donate money or sponsor a homeless enrollee. Homeless Coach’s FAQ has a wishlist for volunteers and donations. Volunteers are needed for design, construction, coaching, fundraising, and plenty of other tasks. Your business can become a sponsor by donating in-kind goods and services ranging from netbooks to lumber to web hosting to accounting. Chances are, Homeless Coach could use your help.


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