In late 2008, Kate Barnhart reached out to a small group of her friends and associates to discuss creating a new group to serve the homeless youth population in New York City. Kate recognized from her years of involvement with this population that there was an unfilled need for continuous and consistent case management. Meeting that need would help youth in all stages of homelessness embark or progress on the path to self sufficiency. Under Kate’s leadership, that small group of like-minded but diverse individuals reached out to their networks to assemble a program of case management and life skills education.
At our first activity, we attracted only a handful of participants and expected very slow growth as no outreach was planned. It quickly became obvious that word-of-mouth would dramatically increase the size of our groups. Our typical Sunday meal is approaching 50 participants a week, with life skills group consistently exceeding 25 participants. In April of 2010, we were impressed to learn that we had served a hot meal to more than 300 unique participants.
Take a moment to review the bios of our current Board Members.
Karen Ramspacher, President^
Business professional with more than 15 years experience running projects in the private sector, including budgeting, research, project management, communications, public relations, and advertising/marketing. Prior to joining the private sector, worked in non-profits focusing on healthcare and politics, primarily for low-income and access-challenged clients. Prior Board experience with The Lower Eastside Girls Club in Manhattan, for more than 2 years, including participation in Capital Campaign and ongoing programming fundraising efforts.
Kate Barnhart, Executive Director^
M.S. in clinical psychology with a focus on trauma. 16 years experience working with at-risk youth. 16 years experience grant-writing. 5 years experience as the Director of Sylvia’s Place, a harm-reduction emergency shelter for homeless LGBT youth.
Jeff has been involved with various projects supporting LGBT Homeless Youth in New York City for the past seven years, initially through volunteering at Sylvia’s Place shelter at MCC, and then as the volunteer coordinator for an interfaith initiative in which five local Churches participated in provided shelter space for 50 LGBT youth during the coldest winter months of January and February. He was instrumental in extend this winter shelter program into a year-round transitional shelter space at “Sylvia’s East,” which provided supervised shared living space and meals for six LGBT youth from February 2007 through June 2008.
Jeff is an Elder of Middle Collegiate Church, where he serves as Treasurer, and he is also a member of the Investments and Endowment Committee of The Collegiate Church Corporation.
He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from Penn State University, and has over 20 years of professional experience in the technology & application software industry. He is currently employed by Salesforce.com as a Principal Sales Engineer, and resides in the Chelsea/Flatiron district of Manhattan.
By day, Benjamin Shepard, PhD, LMSW, works as an Assistant Professor of Human Services at City Tech/CUNY. By night, he has battled to keep New York from becoming a giant shopping mall. To this end, he has done organizing work with the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP), SexPanic!, Reclaim the Streets New York, Times UP, the Clandestine Rebel Clown Army, the Absurd Response Team, CitiWide Harm Reduction, Housing Works, the More Gardens Coalition, and the Times UP Bike Lane Liberation Front and Garden Working Groups, as well as Occupy Wall Street.
He is also the author/editor of six books: White Nights and Ascending Shadows: An Oral History of the San Francisco AIDS Epidemic (Cassell, 1997) and From ACT UP to the WTO: Urban Protest and Community Building in the Era of Globalization (Verso, 2002). The latter work was a non-fiction finalist for the Lambda Literary Awards in 2002. This was followed by Queer Political Performance and Protest (Routledge, 2009). In 2010, he was named to the Playboy Honor Role as one of twenty professors “who are reinventing the classroom.” His upcoming works include The Beach beneath the Streets: Contesting New York’s Public Spaces (with Greg Smithsimon, SUNY Press) and Play, Creativity, and Social Movements: If I Can’t Dance, Its Not My Revolution (Routledge, 2011).
A social worker, he has worked in AIDS services and activism for two decades, joining ACT UP Golden Gate in the early 1990’s, opening two congregate facilities for people living with HIV/AIDS, serving as deputy director for a syringe exchange program, all while remaining active in efforts to bridge the gap between direct action and direct services. Today, he remains involved in organizing efforts, while serving as advocacy coordinator for the National Organization for Human Services.