Monday, December 3, 2012

The Street by B. J. Lacasse

As a native of Fort Worth, there are few things dearer to me than this city and its community. Most people who have lived here for as long as I have are aware of many places to volunteer to help the city’s homeless. One such place is the Presbyterian Night Shelter.

Having volunteered there myself, I am familiar with the work this organization does to help the city’s homeless. PNS provides meals, shelter, and services that help people get back on their feet, such as transitional housing, on-site counseling, physical and educational development for all ages, and telephone and mail services, all in an effort to enable their clients to reenter mainstream society.

The Presbyterian Night Shelter’s mission is "to end homelessness one individual at a time" by providing them with support, basic essential needs, and hope. On average, PNS gives meals, beds, and basic care to 650 people every night and 4,000 annually. As a result, PNS has grown massively due to increasing need. They are very blessed to have people willing to help ensure they get the things they need, whether those needs are for manpower, money, or supplies.

One such person happens to be B.J. Lacasse, author and photographer of The Street. This photography book is a powerful testament to the need for a place like PNS. B.J. went around the streets of Fort Worth and into encampments of homeless to get the images and stories presented in the book. She didn’t just wake up one day and decide she was going to embark on this journey, however. Before the idea had even formed, she spent time volunteering at the Shelter and getting to know the men, women, and children she served there.

B.J. saw each person as more than just a statistic and more than just an “invisible” person. She looked these people in the face, smiled at them, and treated them with kindness. As a result of the relationships she forged during her volunteer time at PNS and during the process of creating the book, she became even more passionate and outspoken about the need to end homelessness, not just by giving people food and shelter, but also by equipping them with the skills and support they need to help themselves out of homelessness.

The Street includes a foreword by former mayor of Fort Worth, Mike Moncrief, and an afterword by Senator Wendy Davis. It is now available for purchase from TCU Press, and a portion of the proceeds go directly to the Presbyterian Night Shelter. If you’re a native of Fort Worth or a recent transplant to this city, you should pick up a copy and get to know the faces of our community that so many of us overlook. Maybe it will even inspire you to volunteer somewhere like the Presbyterian Night Shelter.

--Diana Dunigan

To find out more about the Presbyterian Night Shelter, visit their website at View the book trailer for The Street here: