HELENA – High School students from the PEAK Gifted and Talented program spent their morning at Mahalo Spa and God’s Love raising awareness of homelessness in the community.
The the goal of the project is to show that the residents of God’s Love are just like anyone and deserve a chance to have their stories heard.
The PEAK program organized the event. The residents had their hair cut and styled, their makeup done, and their picture taken by a professional photographer. Afterward, the students interviewed the residents to learn more about them and their struggle with housing.
Marianne Baumiester, a fourth grade teacher and specialist for PEAK, works closely with the high school students. She wanted this project to make a memorable impression on not only the students involved but those affected by homelessness.
“Myself and Erin Maxwell, the two of us planned what we would be doing for this unit, this whole project. And part of it was just coming here today, having these kids come up with interview questions and talk to the residents that are here, just so they could share their story,” Baumiester stated.
Baumiester was able to coordinate with youth pastor and professional photographer Kenton Rowe, to teach kids and residents at God’s Love the beauty of photography and breaking social stigma’s of beauty within the community.
“My desire in all this, is that they would see these people no different than their neighbor. And in many cases, that is the case; they’re not that much different than a neighbor. A lot of people here have college degrees, and some piece of their life has fallen a part. It’s important to teach these kids about humanity,” said Rowe.
Cheryl Dagel, a God’s Love resident, says she felt blessed and honored to share her story with students, and recognizes how in a moment, your whole life can change.
“It happened so quickly for me, you know. I didn’t plan on this. I was at a sober living house and then now I’m here, but I’m still sober and feel good.” Dagel continued, “I just want the kids to know to stay away from drugs and alcohol. You can still do good things. If I can do it, they can do it. Anybody, can do it.”
Reporting by Christine Sullivan for MTN News