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Episode 34: Follow-up on Alaska’s ‘Forget-Me-Not’ movement

By KTVA Alaska 10:42 AM December 21, 2015

Earlier this year, we reported on a Facebook movement which started with just one guy and his cell phone camera.

Samuel Johns — an Alaska Native rapper, sobriety activist and homeless advocate — had no idea his Facebook page would mushroom to over 15,000 members in less than six months.

His vision: to engage Alaskans in helping Anchorage’s street alcoholics — many of whom had lost touch with their families, some for years.

Johns started out by talking with the homeless and asking them to share their stories. With their permission, he posted their pictures on his Forget-Me-Not page, along with messages to their families.

It wasn’t long before families were connecting with their loved ones. Others posted pictures of family members asking for help in tracking down their relatives.

Johns also began making requests for help, and it wasn’t long before things like a drum for Bean’s Cafe or donated airplane tickets materialized — as well as a growing number of volunteers like Emily Tyrell, who has lent her expertise to getting the Forget-Me-Not non-profit off the ground.

This week’s show features a profile of Samuel Johns, shot by Jacob Curtis and edited by John Thain.

Samuel also appears as a guest on this week’s Frontiers, as well as one of his loyal volunteers — Crystalyn-Gunsi Lemieux.

Crystalyn was drawn to the Forget-Me-Not movement, because she has had several relatives, who have died on the streets, including her father.

She says Samuel’s Facebook page ignited her passion to do something to help break the cycle of homelessness, which has become, in many cases intergenerational.

Since we profiled Samuel earlier this year, it seems like he’s been in the spotlight — with a feature piece in the LA Times and a story on CNN about his Facebook movement. He’s also received a number of awards for his work and traveled to several villages promoting his message of sobriety and empowerment.

We thought it was a good time for an update on the Forget-Me-Not movement, which is offering new ways to look at an old problem.

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