Home Exhibit at Waynesboro Public Library highlights how homelessness ‘could be any of us’
Arts & Culture, Local

Exhibit at Waynesboro Public Library highlights how homelessness ‘could be any of us’

Rebecca Barnabi
Waynesboro Public Library Director Susan Versen displayed the photographs in “This Is Home” yesterday. Courtesy of Waynesboro Public Library.

“This is Home,” an interactive photo project exploring local housing insecurity issues, is currently on exhibit at Waynesboro Public Library.

The photo exhibit was created by the Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge in partnership with freelance photographer Kate Simon. “This is Home” shares stories of local people and their experiences with housing insecurity.

Waynesboro Public Library Director Susan Versen is thrilled for the library to host the exhibit through November and December.

“We hope this photo exhibit serves as an opportunity for all our patrons to see different parts of their communities,” Versen said. “WPL strives to connect people with information and resources like our collection, both physical and online, or our Little Free Pantry, entertainment and each other. Hosting this exhibit is another way that WPL can connect different parts of our community.”

Dan Layman, CEO of the Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge, feels that the Waynesboro Public Library is a logical partner for the “This is Home” exhibit, which has been circulating around the community since November 2022.

The exhibit was most recently at The By & By Cafe in downtown Staunton, and a portion of the exhibit is also at Trinity Episcopal Church.

“Housing is such a complex issue, so I understand why it’s easy to jump to conclusions about our neighbors who may be struggling,” Layman said. “When we take the time to hear their stories, though, we can begin to have more thoughtful conversations about the future of housing in our community. ‘This is Home,’ which introduces many of these stories through local images, is our way of inviting the community to have these conversations.”

For one part of the project, Simon and Community Foundation community engagement director Chris Lassiter have sat with community members and listened to their stories of housing insecurity. For the other part of the project, Simon and Lassiter have been listening to community leaders whose organizations are working on solutions.

Simon hopes that viewers of the exhibition walk away with a sense of the humanity for the community members impacted by housing insecurity.

“What I want people to walk away with is compassion,” Simon said, “to see that it could be any of us. That every single one of these people that we feature has their own story, and it’s important. They deserve visibility in a respectful way. I hope it makes people aware of the issues in our community, and inspires them to reach out and do something.”

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.