Kaitlyn Frick is a student leader at the University of Kentucky (UK) dedicated to helping address issues of homelessness among youth within our Lexington community. Kaitlyn has committed herself to leadership and service by investing in UK's student-led Center for Community Outreach (CCO), which engages students in the community through service, leadership, and education. Currently, she serves as the Program Director for Wildcats for HOMES, a CCO program, where she helped establish a mentorship program that connects UK students with at-risk youth in local elementary schools. The HOMES program also organizes events around the annual National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week (NHHAW) in November of each year. As director, Kaitlyn increased the number of partnerships across campus to expand the scope and breadth of the week's programming events, and she has championed the needs of homeless youth between 18-24 years of age. She has worked with city, campus, and community partners to raise awareness around the issue and to find practical solutions.
Starting in elementary school, I would spend a Saturday each month volunteering with people experiencing food and housing insecurity. As I grew older, I developed a very close bond with them. When I began college, I was eager to continue relationships like these in my new community and learn more about sustainable ways to overcome food and housing insecurity. I joined a student organization, that I now lead, which educates students about housing insecurity in Lexington, organizes volunteer opportunities for students, and advocates for affordable housing for 18-24-year-olds. Two years ago, I created a partnership with the county public schools to partner college students with elementary school kids who are experiencing homelessness in a mentorship program. Since our first semester, we have grown from 8 mentors at 4 schools to 26 mentors in 10 schools. We are now expanding to work with a transitional housing program in an after-school mentorship program. We also host National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week each November. Our current focus in advocacy includes supporting a campaign for a Basic Needs Center on University of Kentucky's campus and working with community partners, as well as the city government, to prioritize funding for a shelter for 18-24-year-olds.