Activists aid Boston homeless


Henry Hitchings

From left to right freshman Theo Fairchild-Coppoletti, seniors Max Cordray and Robert Hanjian, and junior Hunter Athearn assemble sandwiches at the CityReach program.

Spencer Pogue, Assistant Editor-in-Chief

A desire to engage in activism is what drives the members of the Students for Social and Global Change club at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS). This past weekend, members of the club continued their tradition of making the trek to the Cathedral of St. Paul in Boston, where they took part in an annual event known as CityReach, which offers them insight into the lives of homeless people.

CityReach was founded in 1996 as an urban education program for youth. Its goal is to educate students about homelessness, and to offer volunteer opportunities in giving hospitality, food, and shelter to Boston’s homeless population. CityReach staff members include people who have faced homelessness in the past, or who are currently homeless. They serve to educate participating students through firsthand experience.

On the night that students arrived, they took a tour of Boston from a homeless person’s perspective. Rather than typical city tour monuments, places like shop doorways and apartment buildings that serve as sleeping spots for the chronically homeless were the focus.

Junior Julia Dostal said, “I gained a much better understanding of how people without homes live in Boston, what their lives are like, and the things they must overcome every day in order to survive.”

Blake Leasure, the club’s president, has been on the trip the past few years. “The first time I went was definitely an eye-opening experience. It feels nice to give back and to see how fortunate I am in my upbringing. The trip is also important in serving the purpose of breaking down judgment and stigma against homeless people, so it was rewarding to try and contribute to that,” he said.

Senior Gus Nye Hoy said, “I thought I would be able to actually make a difference by joining Students for Social and Global Change. I also wanted to get out there and see firsthand what was going on in the world.”

Blake said, “The purpose of the club is to be activists in creating change in pressing social issues, whether it be homelessness, violence in schools, littering, or in general, any issues that our members are passionate about. We want our members to be a part of change that they help create and can observe firsthand.”

The club’s history is one of humble beginnings. It was started in 2016 by former student Robson Borges, and consisted of only a few members. Last year there were about 10 kids in the group, and this year there are over 20 members, due to Blake’s focus on expanding the club.

The CityReach trip is only one of the many events that the club participates in. Blake said, “In addition to the CityReach trip, we also brought kids from MVRHS to the March for Our Lives event in Washington, D.C., last year.”

The club typically meets on Tuesdays after school in Ms. Fairchild-Copoletti’s room. Blake said, “There aren’t any more events soon, due to the preparations and fundraising that the CityReach trip required, but there will be many opportunities to get involved in the near future.”