Mark is back row center. I'm front left.

Mark is back row center. I'm front left.

Mark was my uncle. He was the most family-oriented member of my extended family. He was the guest of honor at Thanksgiving and Christmas. He remembered every birthday: the year before he died at the age of 50, he gave me an eagle bandana for my birthday.

Mark also suffered from schizophrenia, and lived on-and-off the streets for 30 years.

In November 2013, for the first time since he died 10 years prior, I visited his gravesite in Santa Cruz. My dad and Uncle David had chipped in for a plot of ground to call his own, refusing to have Mark's memory forgotten.

As poignant as this was for me, I wondered if there was anything I could do for the people still living on the streets each day, whose lives we forget or ignore.

Like Mark, there are many people on the streets who suffer from mental illness, or drug addictions, or severe disabilities. Many people who have problems, just like the rest of us. Some are mental illnesses; some are down on their luck, just divorced, missed payment, bad accident, mounting health care costs, debts, mistakes, chances that just didn’t work out. Many people who have families and people who miss them and love them.

I decided to do something about it. I started Miracle Messages to make an immediate and tangible impact in the lives of our neighbors living on-and-off the streets, to build empathy through person-to-person interaction and storytelling, and to use technology for social good.

Thank you, Uncle Mark, for inspiring the idea that lead to Miracle Messages. I always loved ‘em burritos, too.

I miss you.


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