Faces without Places Comes to Northside for Fundraiser
Faces without Places will hold its sixth annual Chili Taste Off on Sunday, November 10, 2013 from 12-4 PM at the Northside Tavern. Faces without Places is an area nonprofit that works to remove barriers to education for children and youth experiencing homelessness. Executive Director Ramin Mohajer said of the organization that its primary goal is to “provide school stability and improve educational opportunities for the approximately 6,000 children experiencing homelessness each year in Greater Cincinnati.”
Current Program and Outreach Manager and Northside resident Shelley Werner co-founded Faces without Places in 1998 while serving an AmeriCorps term working with students experiencing homelessness. In a January 2013 article of the Enquirer, Werner explained that she co-founded the organization because students experiencing homelessness were a “widely unknown population.” Today, Werner and the staff at Faces without Places continue to raise awareness about educational barriers specific to students experiencing homelessness, with Werner citing a desire to ensure the protection of educational rights for these students. Change 4 Change, an awareness initiative through the organization, helps raise the visibility of child homelessness through presentations to local area schools and focuses on how students can become involved in these advocacy efforts.
Werner and Executive Director Mohajer, along with staff member Beth Neimann and Public Ally Megan Rahill, provide educational and enrichment programming, school transportation and supplies, and other specialized services to children and youth in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Two of these programs, created by Rahill, are delivered in homeless shelters: My Little Library and Birthday Club. The My Little Library program provides children and youth in shelters with engaging reading activities and books, while Birthday Club offers businesses, groups, and organizations the opportunity to throw birthday parties for children in shelters. Rahill is currently at work on a program that would bring art to children in shelters and is in communication with Libby Hunter from WordPlay to develop a performing arts program for students experiencing homelessness.
Throughout the calendar year, Faces without Places provides children and youth experiencing homelessness with such academic and enrichment programs and activities as Yellow School Bus Summer Camp, a seven week education-based summer program, and ZooMates, a yearlong mentoring program that matches elementary students experiencing homelessness with Xavier University students. Mohajer said of Yellow Bus Summer Camp that primary emphasis is on improving math and literacy skills and enrichment opportunities for children and youth, and that both programs work to enhance a sense of hope, empowerment, community connection, and self-esteem of children and youth experiencing homelessness.
Even with the success of Faces without Places’ programs, staff members are quick to remind us that “simple things we take for granted” – eating ice cream, for example – are often lost on children and youth who experience homelessness. As a result, staff “constantly strive to think of new ways to provide [students] with experiences that would not otherwise be available to them.” My Little Library and Birthday Club programs are two ways Faces without Places has been able to expand opportunities to children and youth experiencing homelessness, and volunteers are always needed to help drive and continue these efforts. Northsiders interested in volunteering in Faces without Places programming can assist with the My Little Library and Birthday Club programs, or can become involved with the Yellow Bus Summer Camp. Volunteers are also needed for Board efforts, event planning, and hosting an event for Faces without Places.
Check out Faces without Places on November 10, 2013 at the Northside Tavern for more about the organization and its programs. Residents who visit the Tavern on November 10 will enjoy Happy Hour Pricing, watch the Bengals @ Ravens at 1PM, a kids craft area, raffle baskets, door prizes, and, of course, chili. The cost to attend the event is $10 dollars per person. (Children under 5 eat free.) All proceeds benefit children experiencing homelessness. To learn more, visit: www.faceswithoutplaces.org