SLA Legacy Programs

Finding a Voice

Finding a Voice brochure

‘Finding a Voice’ at the Siena/Francis House Homeless Shelter

Siena/Francis House (SFH) Homeless shelter in Omaha NE, is one of the largest homeless shelters in the Midwest. It is operated in partnership with the Miracle Program – one of largest drug and alcohol recovery centers in the area. The guests at the shelter represent a broad social and economic background with a myriad of differences and similarities.

The ‘Finding a Voice’ project was developed as a service-learning program that brings homeless guests and health professions students together.  It is based on principles of respect, openness, equity, generosity, and community engagement and collaboration, with a reciprocal approach: while students may be able to provide services that are informed by community identified needs, they widen their awareness of issues of homelessness, recognize civic responsibility and develop further commitment to social justice. With the ‘Finding A Voice’ program, we use creative expression, self-reflection, and interaction, while striving to develop a deeper understanding of self and society and foster wellness. There is mutual ‘ownership’ of the project distributed among the guests, former guests, the SFH leadership, and the SLA, UNMC, COPH.

‘Finding A Voice’ currently has four components:

  1. Development of health education initiatives with Siena/Francis House and UNMC in progress.
  2. Creative Writing workshop – Thursdays 3:00-4:30 PM; Facilitated by Rita Paskowitz, professional storyteller.
  3.  ‘Artists In Recovery’ (AIR) Initiative, designed to shed light on the unnoticed talents of guests and to foster the development of these talents, thereby promoting the overall health and well-being of homeless individuals.  Saturdays 7:30-10:00 PM.
  4. The Turtle Project – for homeless children – Rita Paskowitz’s program with children and mothers at the shelter.

For more information on program details, please visit the Finding a Voice website.

Mission Statement:

Our mission is to celebrate dignity, promote wellness, and create a safe community where all participants find their voices. We strive to enhance awareness about homelessness among students and the broader Omaha community.


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