The Staff

Meet the 2011 Will Write For Food Staff: These students hail from 13 colleges throughout the United States. The one thing they all have in common is journalism. Each student applied for and was accepted to this unique program sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists. These are their stories.

Gideon Grudo – Florida Atlantic University

Tasks: Editor in Chief

Biggest reality check: “One of the things I like about journalism is that I met these people yesterday yet the dynamic is already set in stone. Very little can kill it. We’re all fighting the same war.”

 

 

Adrienne Cutway – University of Central Florida

Tasks: Writing about shelter members with tattoos

Biggest reality check: “Being here has been really impactful. I started shaking in the diner because I was so nervous but being with these people is amazing because we’ll never be here again.”

 

 

Ameena Rasheed – Texas Southern University

Tasks: Writing about healthcare for the homeless and going on an outreach mission with shelter staff members.

Biggest reality check: “The fact that they can produce a newspaper and be a family. There’s so much organized chaos.”

 

 

Andrew Sheeler – University of Alaska Fairbanks

Tasks: Writing about the Psych Room, also known as “the room at the end of the hall.”

Biggest reality check: “The idea of homelessness isn’t abstract anymore. I’ve put a face to everything after hearing horror stories.”

 

 

Ashley Sikand – University of Central Florida

Tasks: Writing about love in the shelter and going on an outreach mission with shelter staff members.

Biggest reality check: “Everyone is so different yet they’re forced to live together. They have to adapt in order to survive.”

 

 

Barbara “Babs” Astrini – Coastal Carolina University
Tasks: Designer

Biggest reality check: “Watching people be resourceful. The shelter members are very community-like and I’ve gotten a bigger sense of family.”

 

 

Christine Capozziello – Florida Atlantic University

Tasks: Photographer

Biggest reality check: “A lot of people were upbeat which makes you realize that perspective matters. That made me more sad.”

 

 

Emily Summars – University of Oklahoma

Tasks: Writing about “COSAC City,” the halfway house community that the COSAC/Johnny McCormick Shelter is planning.

Biggest reality check: “Going to the shelter last night made me realize the stories we write on campus are petty. I want to cover homelessness in Oklahoma.”

 

Hannah Winston – University of Florida

Tasks: Writing about food in the shelter

Biggest reality check: “How much a family they are. I didn’t expect that.”

 

 

Hilary Coles – Georgia PerimeterTask: Writing about shelter resident “Ramona” who dreams of being an artist despite suffering from Muscular Dystrophy.

 

 

 

Biggest reality check: “This experience has given me new insight into how difficult it is to be homeless.”

Laura Newberry – University of Central Florida

Tasks: Writing about how the shelter handles narcotics

Biggest reality check: Learning that “they’re homeless but this is their home. They trust the staff so much. The staff is like they’re parents.”

 

 

Liz Richardson – Moraine Valley Community College

Tasks: Writing about the community’s opinion of the shelter

Biggest reality check: “The shelter is so organized and run more like a business. I expected a chaotic mess but it’s a lot more scheduled than I thought it would be.”

 

 

Loan Le – Fairfield University

Tasks: Writing about and infiltrating a government-run homeless shelter

Biggest reality check: “The homeless residents still have memories they hold dear. They’re still hopeful.”

 

 

Meg Wagner – University of Florida

Tasks: Writing about former residents working as staff

Biggest reality check: “When I interviewed one of the clients she looked exactly like my best friend’s mom. It made me realize you don’t have to be a drug addict or a horrible person to be homeless. We’re breaking down the stereotypes.”

 

 

Michael Newberger – Flagler College

Tasks: Writing a profile of Mark Targett, the Homeless Voice’s editor

Biggest reality check: “I was impressed by the size and scope of this shelter that’s run by one guy.”

 

 

Morgan Watkins, University of Florida

Tasks: Writing a profile of Sean Cononie, COSAC founder and manager

Biggest reality check: “I was in the room with Sean when he was talking to two residents about safe sex. I always had this theory about homeless shelters. So seeing people that were having relationships here and seeing how he was being so hands on with it was really eye opening for me.”

 

Phil Sunkel – Flagler College

Tasks: Photographer

Biggest reality check: “The compassion for people.”

 

 

Sofia Lee – University of Florida

Tasks: Writing about religion in the shelter

Biggest reality check: “I realized that homeless people are just like everyone else. They all have something they hold onto whether it’s faith or something else.”

 

 

Stephanie Hardiman, DePaul University

Tasks: Writing about sex in the shelter

Biggest reality check: “There was no big realization so much as hearing crazy stories. I’ve volunteered in a homeless shelter before.”

Meet the 2011 Will Write for Food Advisers: The advisers for this year’s program are comprised of the original creators and former WWFF staff. They all have experience working in and with the COSAC/Johnny McCormick homeless shelter. These are their stories.

Brian Thompson – Adviser for “The Gargoyle” at Flagler College

Biggest reality check: “We have no time to do this. We’re not a staff in the sense that we haven’t had time to get to know each other. That’s what journalism is all about.”

 

 

 

Dan Sweeney – FAU University Press Adviser

Biggest reality check: “It’s a cliche now about our health care system, but it was surprising to me just how little it takes for a person to become homeless — namely, just one chronic illness coupled with a lack of health insurance. So many of the people at the shelter were job-holding, home-owning folks until one serious ailment caused a downward spiral that put them on the streets.”

 

Devin Desjarlais – Web Adviser, WWFF 2009 staff member

Biggest reality check: “This is my third year being involved in this program. Each group of students have been more and more impressive in terms of their dedication to the project and to journalism.”

 

 

 

Dori Zinn – SPJ SoFla VP of Programs

Biggest reality check: “Once you graduate, and you go into a regular job with regular hours, you kind of forget that there are people who work their asses off for two days straight because they want to. I like seeing people who are passionate about journalism.”

 

 

Michele Boyet – Program Organizer, SPJ SoFla Vice President

Biggest reality check: “You can teach students about journalism, you can show them good journalism, and then you let them do journalism. That’s what this event is – it’s real, it’s raw, and the experience is remarkable.”

 

 

 


Mike Rice – Photo Adviser

Biggest reality check: “Many of these residents don’t feel like they’re homeless. A lot of them seem like they’re family. They’re very happy.”

 

 

Pam Geiser – Audio Adviser, WWFF 2009 staff member

Biggest reality check: “It’s a little different this time because I’m less involved. Every year the students develop ideas in more of a broad spectrum. This time they’re exploring the fun side of things instead of how awful it is.”

 

 

 

Rachael Joyner – SPJ SoFla Secretary

Biggest reality check: “After three years of helping with WWFF, I am still amazed by the talent and drive of the students who participate. They jump into situations way outside of their comfort zones and do a kick-ass job. You’d think that after three years the stories would start to sound the same but every year the students find new ways to cover this quirky homeless community.”

 

Sergy Odiduro – SPJ SoFla VP of Membership

Biggest reality check: “I was encouraged by the fact that these students are willing to give up their holiday to report on homelessness. The perception is that young people don’t care about serious issues. It’s great to see people give up their entire lives for a good cause.”

Not Pictured:

Rebekah Monson – SPJ SoFla Director


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