Cambrian College, Samaritan Centre partner on book to profile vulnerable citizens

A new book is showing what it looks like to be poor and homeless in Greater Sudbury.

Proceeds from Aboutface will go to the Samaritan Centre in Sudbury

From left to right: Kevin Serviss, executive director of the Samaritan Centre, Chrisanne Daniel, Cambrian College graduate, Amanda Cooper, citizen, Ron Beltrame, retired Cambrian professor and Bill Best, president of Cambrian College celebrate the release of the book Aboutface. (Wendy Bird/CBC)

A new book is showing what it looks like to be poor and homeless in Greater Sudbury.

Aboutface is a partnership between Cambrian College's graphic design program and the Samaritan Centre. The centre is home to a number of groups which offer services and support for vulnerable people.

"We know that every member of our community has a story to tell and is worthy of being heard," Ron Beltrame, who lead the project and is now retired from Cambrian's graphic design program said.

"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."

The book features photos of people who use the Samaritan Centre, along with their first name and answers to a few questions they were asked. The questions explore a variety of topics, from 'what do you value the most in life' to 'what was one of your best days?'.

The book was officially released to the public on Tuesday. Amanda Cooper, one of the subjects of the book, was there for the launch.

"Now I work part time and things are going better for me," she said.

Amanda Cooper and Denis Pilon, both featured in the book Aboutface, were at the Samaritan Centre for the launch. (Supplied/Cambrian College)

"I can't say that I don't always have the odd struggle here and there but I know that I have the Samaritan Centre and Sudbury. I love Sudbury."

Kevin Serviss, executive director of the centre, says it's important to get these stories out to the community.

"Just to open eyes to the issue and maybe to release a little bit of the stigma attached to homelessness," he said.

"To realize that there's a real story behind a real face and it's somebody who's gone through some real difficulties."

Work on the book started in 2013 when students and faculty interviewed and photographed more than 40 people who frequent the centre. The photos were first shown in an exhibit before being compiled into a book.

Chrisanne Daniel is a graduate of Cambrian College's graphic design program. (Wendy Bird/CBC)

Chrisanne Daniel was in her final year of the graphic design program when she got involved.

"It felt good to have a chance to be a part of something that would make a great impact," she said.

"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. It was moving, not only to hear their stories, but to also be trusted to share those stories with others."

Copies of the book can be purchased at the Samaritan Centre for $25.

With files from Wendy Bird


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