Artist draws attention to homelessness in Tulsa

TULSA -- A new mural unveiled Thursday morning in the Brady Arts District draws attention to homelessness, which is one of the four pillars of the "Too Big To Ignore" campaign with the Mental Health Association Oklahoma.

Mark Vann spent a year and a half living on the streets of Tulsa. He was one of the 4,200 people in the Sooner State experiencing homelessness.

"When I was homeless I didn't know that there were programs that could help me," said Vann.

The Mental Health Association Oklahoma reached out to Vann and offered him food, a place to live, and a helping hand to get his life back on track.

Now he returns the favor as a volunteer for the organization that saved his life.

"I feel like that I am helping because when I needed help they were there for me," said Vann.

The organization unveiled a mural this morning alongside the artist, Josh Butts.

Butts painted a homeless veteran pushing a cart, with some common causes of homelessness.

Butts is a veteran himself, and holds the mural close to hus heart.

"I know firsthand there are things that you bring home with you that you are never quite okay with and it’s hard reconciling that to the rest of your life," said Butts.

Butts wanted the takeaway of this mural to be compassion for others, and do what does good instead of what feels good.

He wants people to be inspired to help make a serious difference in a person's life who's experiencing homelessness.

"The idea is you want people to have a feeling that you’ll never fully be able to empathize with people, but there’s a part of humanity that has to connect with other people," said Butts.

Butts hopes the mural alongside Spinster Records will catch the community's attention and of someone experiencing homelessness that there are resources to help them.

"There’s hope and that there is help," said Vann.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. The four pillars of the "Too Big To Ignore" campaign includes homelessness, suicide, incarceration, and mental illness.

You can visit the Mental Health Association Oklahoma for details and resources.

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