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Screen Shot 2013-11-13 at 8.56.14 PMScreen Shot 2013-11-13 at 8.56.29 PMGrand Rapids, Michigan, filmmaker Rob Bliss is a storyteller with a masterful understanding of how people communicate. He’s known for fun stunts and videos, like The World’s Largest Zombie Walk.

But this remarkable time lapse video – produced to help Dégagé Ministries get the word out on how they help homeless veterans – has a more serious message.

The video focuses on the transformation of Jim Wolf, a US Army veteran, and it has had nearly 13.5 million YouTube views since Nov 6.

Dégagé takes a back seat to the story – and that’s exactly why it can gain this kind of traction.

Screen Shot 2013-11-13 at 9.27.14 PMThere is no market for messages. But, as my friend Hugh Macleod has noted, “The market for something to believe in is infinite.”

Wolf had struggled for decades with alcoholism and poverty, and had become one of more than 130.000 homeless veterans in the United States when he agreed to take part in Bliss’ video. Bliss says “The homeless are people we ignore every day. [The video shows how] they can look like they’re meant for the cover of GQ — they have that potential, too.”

Degage’s executive director, Marge Palmerlee, said she’d like the project to help change the way people look at the homeless, so they can get the help they need.

A team of volunteer stylists worked to give Wolf an extra boost of the kind of confidence which is so often tied to public and employer perception of external appearance.

Wolf, who had not seen himself throughout the transformation, said “wow” when finally saw his reflection in a mirror. Then he got up and gave Bliss a great big hug.

Since the makeover, Wolf’s found his own apartment and attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings regularly.

Hat Tip to Jon Dodge<