Skid Row, the homeless capitol of the world, is home for Terri Hughes, an inspirational speaker and advocate for the homeless from Los Angeles, Calif. Hughes, whose story is featured in the documentary “Lost Angels: Skid Row is My Home,” will be speaking on Thursday, April 4 in Kiehle Auditorium on the University of Minnesota Crookston campus. Her presentation, which begins at 7 p.m., will be a follow-up to the showing of the documentary “Lost Angels” at 3:30 p.m. in Bede Ballroom that afternoon. Events are free and the public is invited to attend.
“Lost Angels,” which was released on March 19, demonstrates how proactive approaches to homelessness – most specifically that of providing housing –are helping many to recover from mental illness and substance abuse and to find stability (skidrowismyhome.com).
“The Soloist” will also be shown in Bede Ballroom on Thursday, March 28 at 6:30 p.m. Hughes was one of many Skid Row residents who were extras in the 2009 movie starring Jamie Foxx, Robert Downey, Jr., and Catherine Keener.
In many ways, the story of Hughes is the story of Skid Row and a testament to the human spirit. She has been a part of the Skid Row community since 1981 and in and out of homelessness her entire life. In “The Soloist” she says “there was no screen manipulation, it wasn’t acting; we were given the space to be ourselves.”
“The Soloist” tells the story of Los Angeles journalist Steve Lopez, who befriends a homeless Juilliard-trained musician. He writes a series of stories on the homeless man in an effort to help him, but runs into trouble with the realities of the man’s personal demons and the larger social injustices faced by the homeless. Those issues are also ones Hughes will address in her presentation Thursday evening.
“There has been chaos on Skid Row even through the late 1990s when there were no services available,” Hughes explains. “But places like the Midnight Mission, the L.A. Mission, and the Lamp community have provided support, and lives of Skid Row residents have been turned around. When the mentally ill, drug addicted, and those lacking housing have access to the assistance they need, they heal.”
Hughes story like so many others is important because at any time in life we could find ourselves or someone we care about facing homelessness. “I am you. We are your fathers and mothers, cousins, and grandkids,” says Hughes. “If we don’t unite on the issue of homelessness we won’t be able to change anything. I want it to stop.”
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