The dream for a lot of people in media starts at a young age, sometimes by simply picking up a camera. So when it felt like the world stopped last March and students like Melissa Vinding out of Del Mar were sent home for the rest of the school year, she grabbed her iPhone and started recording.
"For a long time I've wanted to document, share a story. It was more why not this is something I'll never experience again."
2020 was the year she'd launch a 30-minute documentary on YouTube called 1000 Times Worse: Devastation That Does Not Discriminate. The mini-film focuses on her experience through the pandemic and puts the focus on another community often hidden from the spotlight.
"Homelessness is something everyone knows about but there's no faces. It's something you see and try to walk past what's hard to deal with." The addition to her documentary began after she volunteered at Helping Hands nearly every week. She took the opportunity to interview those willing to talk.
"Once I met people is when it sunk in. They lost resources that used to give them food Mondays, or lots they parked and slept in, or public bathrooms, showers."
Not only did she add their stories to her mini-feature to create awareness about the issue, but she also created a website from scratch called Stepping Stone Aid Initiative. A hub for people to find resources surrounding homelessness in San Diego County.
"I found it full circle using my skills for something I'm passionate about. I can't help w everything but focusing efforts on something I'm good at was really important for me." Her last years in high school have certainly looked different but the silver lining through it all came into full focus for the 18-year-old.
"It's important to realize it could be a neighbor, yourself, but knowing about homelessness is something you should be aware of, and using your skills will make the world of a difference."