On a warm day in mid October, educator Joan Myers-Hinzman, her colleague Beth Vieth, and Executive Director Kim Webb of the Emergency Shelter of NKY met at Holy Family School in Covington to discuss the needs of their community. As a reoccurring School of Contribution, Holy Family has participated annually in service learning projects instilling civic engagement into their student body. Bringing the Emergency Shelter of NKY to the table this year would provide the school with an unfiltered picture of homelessness, and increase the student’s awareness of homelessness in the community.
On November 30, Holy Family gathered its students for a canned food drive kick off assembly including a presentation given by Kim Webb. She described not only what homelessness is, but also what her organization does to help.
“We are the only emergency shelter in NKY that provides emergency night time sheltering for adults in our region. We are also the only shelter that accepts those actively addicted, ( also those that are) handicapped accessible and takes a direct referral from hospitals, jails and local law enforcement. Our winter life saving shelter is open from November 1- March 31 and when we are below freezing, we work hard to not turn any adult away that needs shelter. We are the safety net for adults. This winter we have sheltered over 400 adults that needed a safe and warm place to sleep at night.”
Following the assembly Kim visited individual classrooms inviting the students to participate in age appropriate discussions. From stuffing back packs to debunking myths, 65 students grades K-8 reflected together about uncomfortable topics such as homelessness, hunger, poverty, and unemployment.
By mid-December, 788 canned foods were hand delivered to Our Savior and St. Benedict Church Food Pantries. But the students’ involvement didn’t end there. As Catholic Schools Week in February approached, students organized and raffled a 53” teddy bear donated by Airport Ford, and also eight flannel tie blankets to raise money towards snack bag contents for the guests at the emergency shelter. The students raised $118.00! Then snack bags were decorated, filled, and delivered in the first week of February.
Through this service learning project, not only did the students experience a greater depth of knowledge, but they helped meet a real community need. Kim Webb believes service learning is an opportunity to inspire.
“Service Learning has had a tremendous impact at the Emergency Shelter of NKY in several ways. Every donation has a direct impact on guests when they are in shelter. On our end, service learning has allowed the opportunity to educate the community and inspire the next generation of volunteers and donors in the world.”