Poetry, Prose, and Philanthropy

Campus literati of the Advocate reach out to homeless shelter residents

Throbbing music and clouds of cigarette smoke—not a spirit of communitas—are things one would typically expect to issue from the bowels of The Harvard Advocate. This year, with a newfound focus on community service and their Cambridge connections, members of the campus literary and arts publication  are working to reconfigure that image.

A cornerstone of the Advocate’s outreach initiative is a workshop series held at the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter: taking place every Friday from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., the seminars serve as a forum for after-dinner discussion between members of the publication and the shelter’s residents.

According to Andrew N. C. Klein ’12, the Advocate’s newly-christened Community Outreach Director, the workshop program grew out of the perceived need to develop ties with people who “might not logically feel like they are members of the Advocate community.”

The publication’s president, Dana M. Kase ’11, echoed those sentiments in an e-mail to The Crimson.

“Our new Community Outreach Program is primarily a response to increased member interest in this particular strand of outreach, and is certainly a wonderful way to expand our reach to people who might not otherwise involve themselves with the organization,” Kase wrote.

Klein explained that the workshops take advantage of the decentralized nature of the shelter’s main common space, with Advocate members typically joining shelter residents at more intimate tables rather than lecturing from afar.

Although loosely organized around a consideration of literary genres, the workshops have morphed into a space for residents of the shelter to share their histories and experiences with members, according to Klein.

“The lectures are about giving a platform for people who don’t always have an opportunity to share their personal stories,” Klein explained, noting how the program has heightened the awareness of how and why we tell stories for both shelter residents and Advocate volunteers alike.

The Advocate’s workshop program, which started this past fall, is planned to continue throughout the spring semester as well.