By Stephanie Ciccarelli
January 7, 2011
Within the last week, we've observed how one man's life has changed dramatically because he was spotted, given an opportunity to share his story and thrust upon the global stage of social media.
Ted Williams, while talented, was first noticed because he was homeless. It was his vulnerability, not his gift, that first attracted the reporter from the Columbus Dispatch. Some have paralleled this modern day story to the parable of The Good Samaritan and rightly so.
Given the passage of time, clarity has shone through and a number of individuals have noted that the fact that Ted happens to be a voice talent is arbitrary in comparison to the fact that this story is really about redemption.
Where is this all going? Find out in today's VOX Daily.
The public response to Ted Williams has been phenomenal. The media can't seem to leave him alone and countless outfits have offered him jobs and prominent roles doing voice over related jobs, most notably a recent gig with Kraft and a potential association with Oprah's O Network.
That being said, not everyone has been as generous in their support for Williams, particularly some people in the broadcast radio industry. Due to the thousands of jobs lost in radio in recent years and cuts to production staff and reporters, many have reason to be resentful, jealous and even upset when trying to comprehend the success that Williams currently enjoys.
Even some people among the voice over community have responded unkindly to the amazing destiny Williams is living out... but that doesn't mean that their feelings need to stay that way and sometimes they are altered beyond what was once thought imaginable.
John Taylor and George Whittam organized a two-hour commitment to stand on the side of the road and beg to get an appreciation for what people like Ted have experienced while raising awareness and accepting donations for a local charity in Los Angeles that serves the homeless called Midnight Mission, located at 601 South San Pedro Street.
Before they got to their destination, John felt that although he was thrilled for Ted Williams' and his rags to riches story, part of him was embarrassed by his own ugly inner feelings of "entitlement" to the job opportunities heaped upon "the golden voice guy."
This all changed for John when the character Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird came to mind. This character said, "You never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walked around in them." From what John shared with me, he relates that the experience allowed him to get outside of his own head, get away from his spoiled brat alter ego "Little Johnny" and get in touch with what is real, which is truly what this mission was about.
John was quick to acknowledge his friends, saying "George and Lee were so cool to accompany me on this adventure. They are the real deal."
If you remember, Ted Williams used to hold up a sign that told people about his God given voice and his past in radio. If you've seen the original video, you'll note that he held it with a smile on his face and believed every word that was on the cardboard.
Similarly, John and George had signs, including one that read, "We (heart) the attention Ted "Golden Voice" Williams is getting -- we want to focus some attention on L.A.'s homeless -- give to MidnightMission.org"
John Taylor, photographed above, held the sign for all to see and he too is displaying it with a smile on his face.
John Taylor shared, "We walked a mile in Ted's shoes today, although we had warm beds to go home to. We learned what it was like to hold our hands out on the street...$93.00 was the take. Our corner was lent to us by a real homeless guy, an out of work contractor from Revere, MA. He stepped aside and let us work his turf for a couple of hours. It was a real education. The folks who chipped in were, for the most part, working class guys in pickup trucks, minivan moms, and folks who drove beat up cars. The drivers of the gleaming Bentleys, Beamers, Benzes, Jags, Audis and Range Rovers and Rolls Royces kept their windows up and their aloof eyes straight ahead."
George Whittam added, "Lee Plaud drove down from Santa Clarita and met us, as well. It was a very educational social experiment. It was the salt-of-the-worth workin' class people who actually made the vast majority of donations. We were able to raise over $90 to send to MidnightMission.org."
Something interesting to note about the gentleman who lent our friends his corner is that this man has a name. "Joe," who has begged at that corner in West LA for more than 2 years, allowed George and John to inhabit his panhandling "turf" for two hours. Joe also happens to be a former Marine. In the past, he was also a man who used to employ 18 people as a construction contractor... but he had a drug problem. After the real estate bust he could no longer support the workers, the business, himself or the habit. As a consequence he lost everything but he's hopeful he'll climb out of this hole.
Joe's story was what really stuck with George afterward. He noted that each of these people have a story, and while some are severely mentally ill, many others are just like Joe or Ted. They have served a nation, had a career, and are now lost to streets.
John went on to say, "I am hopeful for him (Joe). He was bright, engaging and resourceful. Everybody on the street has a story. I know I can speak for George and Lee: We'll never look at homeless people the same way again."
Since hearing about George, John and Lee's experience, a number of people in the voice over community have stepped up and alongside them in effort to raise money and awareness.
Anyone can donate directly to the Los Angeles Midnight Mission at www.midnightmission.org or make an effort to help out your local homeless service agency with your time or some cash. Together we can take inspiration from Ted Williams' story and use our golden voices to be "Voices for the Homeless" everywhere.
I'm interested to hear what your thoughts are regarding what George, John and Lee participated in. Would you rally around a corner in your city with a couple of friends and do the same to help the homeless?
Comments are also welcome regarding Ted Williams and the amazing journey he is on.
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