Monday, October 28, 2013
On September 19th I did the last sketch of Urban Rethink (625 East Central Blvd. Orlando FL) which unfortunately has since been shut down. I went to a Filmmaker's Brown Bag Lunch as part of the Global Peace Film Festival. I assumed I would get to learn about each filmmakers project with some kind of presentation. The dozen or so filmmakers gathered and chatted with each other on the couch and lounge chairs. When the brown bag lunches arrived, they continued their conversations in the conference room and at the scattered tables.
With the sketch finished, I realized that I hadn't learned a single thing about any of the films. As I was leaving, I stopped to write down some information a poster about some "Shampouch" dog washing event that might be fun to sketch. A gentleman entered ReThink and glanced around in frustration. I let him know that all the filmmakers had just left five minutes ago. He let out a deep sigh, he had hoped to speak to someone about the film he was involved with. His name is Rick Peete. He had been homeless on the streets of Orlando for two years. Now he helps father John feed homeless people at the Greek Orthodox Church on Robinson Street right across from Lake Eola. In past years, the food sharing program helped 150-200 people a night. That number has swelled to 400 to 500 people a night. On any given evening 15,000 people go to sleep hungry in Central Florida, of those, many are children.
Director Fabian Morales-Botero spent a year and a half producing a documentary film called, "Take Me Home" that interviewed many of the people who make up the homeless population, who find shelter where they can in Downtown Orlando. Getting to know these people shattered his stereotypes about "the homeless" and allowed him to see them as individuals with compelling stories to tell, with talents and contributions to make to their community and with fates that could befall many of us given the difficult economic recovery. He also got to know the workers and advocates fond dignity,r the homeless, trying to give them the hand up they need. These people may not have a home, but they have heart and dignity.
A week later I saw Rich Peete walking towards the Greek Orthodox church where he helps to make a difference. I remember how his face glowed as he explained to me how helping others changed his life for the better.