The City-Wide Shantytown project began several years ago in an effort to bring attention to the issues in our community surrounding homelessness. For years, many high schools, both public and private, had hosted individual Shantytown events throughout the school year. In 2008, Andy Freeze (Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless) and Steve Elliott (The Mayerson High School Service Learning Program) launched the collaborative to get more schools and groups involved in awareness activities of this kind. Through student meetings, sharing of resources and ideas, and use of the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless’ Speakers Bureau and agency connections, we have over thirty high schools and colleges in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky raising awareness of the struggles facing our low-income neighbors.
It is an honor for Faces without Places to be able to take part in such an action-driven project occurring in our city. Our hope is that every school will have a Shantytown and participants will share their newfound understanding with not only their school, but also the city we live in. We could not think of two other organizations (and people) that FwP would rather collaborate with on this cause more than The Mayerson High School Service Learning Program (Clare Blankemeyer) and the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless (Monica Pepple). Collaboratively, amongst our three organizations we have spoken at nearly all of the thirty five (and counting) Shantytowns working to create a nation where homelessness does not exist.
For two and a half years, Clare Blankemeyer has worked through The Mayerson High School Service Learning Program to connect the community with classroom, in Cincinnati high schools, while assisting educators with meaningful service-learning course redesign with local community partners and inter-school collaborations. Clare has an aura of passion and action that rubs off on everyone she meets. Through her work, Clare has inspired many high school students around the city with her passion for social change.
Monica Pepple, a recent UC Social Work graduate, is new addition to the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless. Since high school, Monica has worked tirelessly to advocate for the needs and the rights of those experiencing homelessness. In her current role as Director of Education and Outreach she has the pleasure of sharing issues of homelessness with students across our city and through the Speaker’s Bureau.
We hope that through the work of our three organizations we can make a better tomorrow for those who are experiencing homelessness.