Geeks Helping Geeks: Help this man find a job!

(c) Sequential Tart

ETA: All is mostly well! Update at the end.

On a night when an old white guy and a younger white guy are debating over which of their respective political ideals purport to help create more jobs in the U.S., it’s very easy to be caught up in their rhetoric and ignore the reality that faces the people who have found themselves out of work and desperately trying to keep things going another day.

An example that hits very close to home for me is that of Kevin Lillard, one of the first to document North American cosplay enthusiasts and anime conventions at his now-defunct website “A Fan’s View.” His website was most active in the late 1990s and early 2000s where he would criss-cross the United States to take photographs of cosplayers, panelists, events, and many more of the activities that surround an average anime convention.

However, after a round of layoffs at the Indianapolis Star where he had been a reporter for over 18 years, Lillard became homeless, and was forced to live out of his car. This Facebook message, written in the middle of the day on October 12 details how poor his situation currently is:

Out of work and out of money, I’ve been living in my car for the last month, spending days at a nearby library, sending out mostly ignored online job applications. Already there’s no money to buy food and the last things to eat were some peanuts from a vending machine at the Anderson newspaper where I had my last job interview. I spent my last change to make a 50-cent call at a pay phone hoping to speak to a recruiter and reached only voice mail. The car where I’ve been living started running out of fuel on the way to the library and I barely got there. With no money there will be no fuel and no way to go from place to place. Even if there is another job offer there will be no way to get there,with no money and no fuel. Unless there’s some sort of miracle,this is the end of any hopes I had. All of the prayers have been answered with messages of failure. This is where we have learned what God really wants.

But it didn’t used to be that way.

Armed with an amateur’s love for photography and a fan’s love for the medium of Japanese animation, it wasn’t unusual to look at Kevin Lillard’s homegrown website on a Friday to see coverage from a convention in one part of the country and on Sunday to see coverage from a complete different convention several hundred—sometimes even thousands—of miles away. That, along with Lillard’s recurring “convention personality of the week” feature kept thousands of people coming back to his site time and time again. (Disclaimer: Kevin once named me a Cosplay Personality of the Week despite the fact that I never actually did any cosplay. I can’t help it if I ran with the “It” crowd back in the day, can I?)

Lillard was a tireless photographer who tried to attend every major event at a convention, which is why it came as a major shock when in 2006 he suffered from a heart attack while covering Ohayocon. This, coupled with an incident at Ikkicon in Austin, Texas in 2009 (scroll down to Saturday) lead to Lillard pulling a decade’s worth of coverage from the web and returning to another love of his, photographing (and announcing) at car races at the Indianapolis Speedrome.

However, according to his LinkedIn profile, Lillard left that job at the same time as the layoff from the Star and as a freelancer, it’s highly doubtful that he had any significant amount of savings. The folks at American Cosplay Paradise have put up a PayPal donation button here where the funds will go directly to Lillard; others are helping by helping gather a list of resources for him to help him get back on his feet.

But I think what would help Kevin Lillard the most would be a job. I mean, look at these photos, taken over several years, at races, during events like basketball games, air shows, and craft shows. Any blog media group worth their page views should be storming down his door to hire him to be their “man on the scene.” If I had the money, I’d fly him out to cover the upcoming New York Comic Con for me; that’s how much I trust in his skills at going in, shooting the story, and uploading the material to a website.

Here’s hoping.

Update: 10/12/2012 Less than 24 hours after the first wave of messages started whizzing around Facebook and the anime convention sphere, Kevin Lillard had this to report:

The old saying of how things are darkest just before the dawn has been proven true with my amazing experiences of the last day. It’s humbling to have to beg and even more humbling to see the outpouring of support in my case. The donations through PayPal have been far beyond anything I could have expected. There’s far more than enough to get me back on my feet and housed for a long time, so I won’t need anything else. If you want to make a donation now, find a local charity that offers real help to the homeless, because there are countless people on the streets who have nothing close to the network of friends that I learned that I have. Fortunately the size of the generosity that you have shown will make it possible for me to send some of the donations to an umbrella agency in this area that works to help the homeless, so they’ll be better prepared to assist those who seem to be in a hopeless predicament. Again, many many thanks.

Honestly, anyone would want to have this guy as an employee, right?

Posted on October 12, 2012 at 01:25 by Trisha Lynn · Permalink
In: Around the Intertubes, News from the Publisher · Tagged with: , , ,

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