Writing in The New York Times, Mark Oppenheimer explores the question of anonymity among big donors — what prompts an anonymous gift, and why do some philanthropists purposefully not want to remain anonymous? Why do so many givers ask that stuff be named after them: buildings, rooms, endowed professorships? Judeo-Christian tradition cautions against self-promotion. With charity, the medieval [...]
Every popular super hero has an alter ego. Batman has Bruce Wayne. Superman has Clark Kent. Spiderman has Peter Parker.
Lynn Daniell — executive director of the Raleigh Rescue Mission, a nonprofit serving the homeless in North Carolina’s capital city — has an alter ego, too. Throughout the year, Lynn changes his clean-cut appearance to dress up as Howard, a homeless man with long hair, bent teeth, and grubby clothes.
He speaks at schools, churches, and other events. No one in the crowd realizes who Howard really is; they simply think he’s an impoverished man there to tell what it’s like to lack the basic necessities of life, comforts that most of us take for granted.
When Lynn walks into the room dressed up as Howard, the usual reaction is dead silence.
“Some people feel sorry for me,” Lynn said. “Others are scared to death.”
Lynn uses his alter ego as a powerful method of communicating the hardships of homelessness. On a given night in Wake County, 1,100 men, women, and children are without shelter. The Raleigh Rescue Mission serves them, feeding 1,575 meals each week to individuals who otherwise might be forced to eat out of garbage cans.
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