|Bay Window : Hope on the Street: Press Release
Public Television Program Examines Mentally Ill Homeless Population in "HOPE ON THE STREET"
Documentary Focuses on Struggles and Triumphs of Homeless People in Need of Treatment, and Their Families and Mental Health Professionals
Inspiring Program Explores Complex Connections between Mental Illness and Homelessness on Public Television Stations Nationwide in April 2003
San Francisco, CaliforniaThey are people we often ignore and avoid. They wander the streets, take shelter under bridges and sleep in parks. What is it like to be mentally ill and homeless on the streets a city in America? What about family members who are desperately trying to re-connect with their loved ones? According to the California State Department of Mental Health an estimated 50,000 mentally ill people in California sleep on the street each night, and thousands of others go to jail or are hospitalized. Nationally, the statistics are just as grim. But there is hope.
Hope on the Street, a production of KQED Public Television in San Francisco, looks at the lives of people who have spent time on the streets while living with their mental illness. This one-hour documentary focuses on hope and recovery while looking beneath the tattered clothes, the dirt and grime to reveal individuals who have an illness and deserve respect, patience and understanding.
Airing on public television stations around the country via American Public Television beginning April 1, 2003, Hope on the Street includes heart-wrenching personal stories of people who are in need of help and those who are on their way to recovery, as well as their family members and local outreach workers who are helping this underserved and often-overlooked segment of our population. Hope on the Street offers proof that if society helps the mentally ill and homeless access quality services, many of them will take responsibility and seize the opportunity to live productive and healthy lives.
"We wanted to break through the stigma and shame to show that the homeless and mentally ill are not nameless and faceless people, but fathers, mothers, sons and daughters," said filmmaker Michael Isip. "By showing that recovery is possible, we want to remind families that it's okay to ask for help and to never give up hope."
Viewers are introduced to two people who are still struggling with their illnesses. Sandra has a family in Mississippi who has been trying to find her for more than 15 years. As the family dreams of the awaited reunion, Sandra has a setback in her recovery and now denies she left a family behind in the South. Known as "Circle Man" for his tendency to walk around in circles on the same block in San Francisco, Richard is an elderly veteran and former chemist who has the financial means and family support to leave the streets, but has been cycling in and out of homelessness, hospitals and jails for more than a 20 years.
The audience will also share in the inspirational stories of two men who are being treated for their illnesses and who have turned their lives around. Ray describes his story as against all odds. He has survived an abusive childhood, gang-life as a homeless teen and a constant struggle with his bi-polar disorder. Ray overcame his illness with the support of his family and proper treatment, and is now an outreach worker and speaker at mental health conferences across the country. J.J. suffers from schizophrenia and was homeless for five years. His is a touching story of the importance of treatment and friendship. A man, who is now not only his boss but also his best friend, helped J.J. gain a new lease on life by simply taking a chance on him.
Public Television's commitment to community engagement continues with the "Hope on the Street" Web site at kqed.org/hope, which offers information and resources on mental illness and homelessness, including an interactive mental health roadmap, discussion groups and much more. The site also features more information about the characters in the program and the individuals who work to reach out to them and others who remain on the street.
Hope on the Street is a production of KQED Public Television in San Francisco. Michael Isip is producer, and Elizabeth Pepin is associate producer. Editor is Robert O'Geen. The executive producer for is Sue Ellen McCann.
Hope on the Street is underwritten by Eli Lilly and Company, with additional funding from Sound Partners for Community Health, a program of the Benton Foundation funded by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
KQED operates KQED Public Television 9, the nation's most watched public television station, and Digital Television 9, Northern California's only public television digital signal; KQED Public Radio 88.5 FM, the most listened to public radio station in the nation; the KQED Education Network, which brings the impact of KQED to thousands of teachers, students, parents, and media professionals through workshops, seminars, and resources; and kqed.org, which harnesses the power of the Internet to bring KQED to communities across the Web.
For 40 years, American Public Television (APT), located in Boston has been a major source of programming for the nation's public television stations. APT has more than 10,000 hours of available programming including Discovering the Real World of Harry Potter, Globe Trekker, Muhammad Ali: Through the Eyes of the World, Nightly Business Report, Rick Steves' Europe, Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home, Ballykissangel, Brian Jacques' Redwall and The Three Tenors Christmas. APT is known for identifying innovative programs and developing creative distribution techniques for producers. In four decades, it has established a tradition of providing public television stations nationwide with program choices that enable them to strengthen and customize their schedules. For more information about APT's programs and services, log on to aptonline.org.