SVDP Rhode Island is “ending poverty through systemic change”

Kat Brissette, a member of NextGen and the St. Mark Church Conference of SVDP Rhode Island, is taking her art to new levels with a lofty goal. 

Rhode Island College art student, Kat Brissette, is using her artistic talent to direct the eyes of the community to the growing number of Rhode Island children dealing with poverty and homelessness. Brissette is transforming the arts building on the Rhode Island College campus this week through a striking installation that mixes silhouetted images of poor children with statistics about the problem. The goal is to raise awareness and funds to address childhood poverty in the state.

Brissette is an active member of SVDP Rhode Island’s Next Gen youth group and the St. Mark Church (Cranston) conference of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. “I wanted to do something that would make a difference, to show a glimpse of how many local children are suffering,” Brissette explained. “I wanted to bring attention to children and families who are often overlooked and to put a face to the numbers; to visually represent each of the 1031 homeless children in Rhode Island we know of, as well as those not counted.”

For her B.F.A. year-end project, Brissette has created a scaling billboard that climbs the main stairwell of Rhode Island College’s Alex & Ani Hall. Her deadline is Friday, April 28. The interactive project provides viewers the opportunity to take an active role in “tearing down child homelessness” by physically pulling images of children from the wall.  Each 4 square-inch image of a child includes the SVDP Next Gen web address printed on the back for people to make donations or get more information on child homelessness. Plans are being discussed to produce a traveling version of the project.

According to Stephanie Geller, a policy analyst with Rhode Island KIDS Count, 23% of Rhode Island’s homeless persons in the state are children. Funds generated from Brissette’s project will be used by SVDP Rhode Island and Next Gen to serve children and families suffering from poverty, including direct aid, poverty education programs, Necessities for Neighbors, youth programing, and housing initiatives.