What does it look like to be poor and homeless in Greater Sudbury? A new book puts a face – or rather numerous faces – to that question.
Aboutface is a partnership between the Graphic Design Program at Cambrian College and the Samaritan Centre in downtown Sudbury. The Samaritan Centre houses the Elgin Street Mission, Blue Door Café, and Corner Clinic, which all serve Sudbury’s less fortunate citizens.
Between 2013 and 2018, a creative team of 16 students and faculty interviewed and photographed more than 40 people who frequent the Samaritan Centre, to share their stories and struggles, but also hopes and dreams. The photos were first displayed as art exhibits before being compiled in book form.
“We know that every member of our community has a story to tell and is worthy of being heard,” says Ron Beltrame, who led the project and retired from Cambrian’s Graphic Design program in 2018. “Through this journey, we came to understand that the causes of poverty and homelessness are never as simplistic as some of us think. We want to show the complexity, dignity, and unique personalities behind the people we often see, but seldom hear from in our community.”
One of the students who took photos for Aboutface was Chrisanne Daniel. She was in her third and final year of Cambrian’s Graphic Design program when she joined the project.
“It felt good to have a chance to be part of something that would make a great impact,” she says. “What I didn’t realize is what a profound impact Aboutface would have on me. All of the people that we photographed and spoke with were so incredibly open, honest and vulnerable with us, and it was moving, not only to hear their stories but to also be trusted to share those stories with others.”
Aboutface also features Pastor Brad Hale, the Director of the Elgin Street Mission, who has experienced homelessness first-hand, and Kevin Serviss, the Executive Director the Samaritan Centre, who is also a former police officer and one of the co-founders of the Elgin Street Mission.
“Our community needs to know that a growing segment of our population looks and lives like this,” adds Kevin Serviss. “Whatever the reasons people find themselves homeless and poor, they need our help, and I hope the Aboutface project will break some stigmas and remind all of us that, but by the grace of God, go we.”
Funding for the Aboutface project was provided by Cambrian’s Applied Research Department.
“This is just an amazing project and I am so proud of everyone at Cambrian who participated. They exemplify the Cambrian family,” says Cambrian President, Bill Best. “I also want to commend the work of the staff at the Samaritan Centre. They embody the meaning of community.”
Copies of Aboutface are available at the Samaritan Centre, for $25.00. Proceeds from the sale of Aboutface will go to the Samaritan Centre to continue the work of supporting the poor and homeless in Greater Sudbury.
The Samaritan Centre invites you to join it for the annual Coldest Night of the Year fundraising event, February 23, in the food court of the Rainbow Centre mall in downtown Sudbury.