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Mannequins Will Help Raise Awareness of Homelessness

by Karen Goff April 28, 2015 at 9:00 am 6 Comments

A "Do You See Me?" mannequin/Credit: Fairfax County

If you see a mannequin holding a “Do You See Me?” sign in Reston, think about how you would feel if it were a real person on the street or under a bridge.

That’s the message the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Partnership to Prevent and End Homelessness is trying to get across with its 2015 We Can End Homelessness campaign, which will kick off at the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

Fairfax County is participating in the Mannequin Project, an effort designed to raise awareness that homelessness does exist in Fairfax, one of the nation’s wealthiest counties.

Beginning Tuesday and running through June, a series of mannequins will be on display in locations throughout the county, representing the faces of homelessness that exist in real life in our area, says Dean Klein, Director of the Fairfax County Office to Prevent and End Homelessness.

The mannequins will hold placards asking residents “Do You Know Me? Can You See Me?” and will depict people of all ages and backgrounds, and further descriptions on the project website explain each mannequins “story,” which is fairly typical of how homelessness can happen to many people, especially children.

“This exciting awareness campaign is intended to bring more attention to the issues facing homeless women, men and children in our community who are homeless,” Klein said. “We hope that by raising awareness we will be able to build even more momentum in preventing and ending homelessness in our community by engaging new stakeholders and by raising more resources.”

About 1,200 people in Fairfax County are considered homeless, said Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova.

“The Mannequin Project is a creative way to bring attention to our homeless population in Fairfax County,” says Bulova. “The Mannequin Project tells us about our homeless neighbors.  Each mannequin has a story that may challenge your views on why people are homeless, and what we can do to help.”

Photo: A “Do You See Me?” mannequin/Credit: Fairfax County

  • Ming the Merciless

    If you see a mannequin holding a “Do You See Me?” sign in Reston, think about how you would feel if it were a real person on the street or under a bridge.

    Ming would feel disappointment because, unlike vagrants, mannequins cannot be used to mine radioactive elements on distant moons.

  • Peer-support-in-Reston

    As a staff member of the Reston Drop-center, a stigma-free place for people with serious mental Heath issues, and the homeless. I see the many homeless everyday. Why use mannequins when Reston has the real thing.

    • Cluster Tycoon

      Excellent point. Every penny counts especially with scrooge in full control.

  • JohnGalt

    If I want to see people suffering from mental illness or homelessness I’ll just go to a Nationals game and observe all the miscreants loitering outside the liquor store

  • Dick Alderson

    John, while alcohol and drug abuse along with mental illness are part of the challenge of homelessness, they are not at its core. You might be surprised at how many people you know (friends, colleagues, neighbors) are one bad stroke of luck (injury, physical illness, etc) way from homelessness. When you see a mannequin, take a moment and read its story. They are all true. They are not all stories of drunk lunatics. Most are good people who need and deserve our help and compassion.


    I feel like the clothes on the mannequins would be put to better use if they were given to actual homeless people. These displays are useless. We are aware.


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