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Homeless shelter guests start newsletter, 'Word On The Street'

Posted: 6:44 PM, Sep 17, 2019
Updated: 2019-09-18 13:08:24-04

BOISE, Idaho — People experiencing homelessness are taking their narratives into their own hands with a project they're working on at Interfaith Sanctuary-- a project that is aimed at ending harmful stigmas.

One contributor 6 On Your Side's Madeline White spoke to, Jacob Hieter, said that in the past, severe anxiety often stood in the way of his dreams. But now, at the helm of a new kind of community newsletter, he said his future is limitless.

"I put together the masthead... I drew the picture on the front page," said Hieter.

At the time of our interview, Hieter was excited to finally enjoy the moment he had been waiting for: seeing his work in ink on their first printed issue of Word on the Street, a new homeless community newsletter.

The self-proclaimed "paper for the people" is by-- and for-- locals experiencing homelessness, printed with help from the Idaho Press.

“The real stories live in our shelter, and they are smart enough to write 'em," said Jodi Peterson-Stigers, Executive Director at Interfaith Sanctuary.

Peterson-Stigers said the issues will soon be distributed in 11 newspaper boxes around Boise. Word on the Street is a collection of personal narratives.

“We just get walked over in this life, and we don’t have a voice. And it’s important to get that voice," said Hieter.

It also contains artwork, poetry, and information on essential resources.

“To see where free meals are, where they can get free medical, if there’s a dental event coming up," said Peterson-Stigers.

“We call every single one of them to verify if it’s correct," said Hieter.

Hieter is the editor, and a member of Project Well-being, a day-time program at Interfaith Sanctuary developed to give select homeless guests a safe space to work on their mental health. The newsletter is a product of the members of this particular group.

"And because they got stable and they’re not in trauma, all of their creative juices are flowing again," said Peterson-Stigers.

Hieter said his editorial vision is to break stigmas, such as: the myth that homeless people are lazy.

“It doesn’t matter what you do, um, with your previous life, it doesn’t matter what happens; everybody has the potential to be homeless," said Hieter.

And he said, with the opportunity to have his voice heard, his own future looks even brighter.

“I want to write fiction, and I want to write sci-fi, but maybe this is-- maybe this is a start... I’m re-writing my future," said Hieter.

Peterson-Stigers says she has plans to try and sell ads in the newsletter to benefit their programming, and hopes to find a way to someday pay the newsletter staff for their work.

If you wish to contribute to the newsletter, reach out to wordonthestreet@interfaithsanctuary.org.