Lane Community College’s Foundation and Story Lane recently recognized science instructor Rich Ross for his video, “Homeless Xmas.”
The video is a digital story that shows Eugene’s homeless holding signs with the lyrics to Ross’ song, which plays in the background. The lyrics ask the listener to please remember homeless people while they enjoy the holidays.
Ross spoke about what motivated him to raise public awareness about the homeless. “I had briefly been homeless myself when I was young – I have been there,” he said.
Ross had many inspirations for his digital project. He said he was influenced by Bob Dylan, especially the video for “Subterranean Homesick Blues.” He was also kindled by his experience, and from his relationships with Eugene’s homeless. “The lyrics came first, then the music came. Some of the lyrics I used came from signs,” he said.
After writing his song, Ross drove around Eugene randomly stopping to meet homeless people, give them food, and show them his lyrics. Ross encountered some disturbing living situations, and some people didn’t want to be filmed. Overall, however, he was very well-received.
Ross originally published the video in Dec. 2013 during a snowstorm. “I am trying to assist the homeless in some way by writing a song,” he said.
The video, published on YouTube, ends with a message encouraging the viewer to donate to the National Coalition for the Homeless. After researching the organization and contacting them to find out how they apportion donations, he liked what they were doing and felt that they were legitimate. He got their permission to include them in his film.
Ross didn’t create the project alone. He said that Sandy Jensen, literature, language and communications instructor at Lane, helped a lot with coordinating and putting together the project. Students at the Academic Technology Center helped him finish the video. “They were very helpful,” he said.
When asked what people can do to help the homeless, Ross encouraged both giving to organizations and giving food to people in need. “It is a complex issue, programs can be great, but some people don’t want to go to the shelters for various reasons,” Ross said. “Giving food to people can help them a lot, I do both.”
He emphasized his intent to raise awareness and urged people to donate and help those in need. “The video is not about me,” Ross said, “it is about the people that are in distress.”
“Homeless Xmas” can be viewed on YouTube.
For more information or to make a donation, contact the National Coalition for the Homeless at www.nationalhomeless.org.