Gateway students fight hunger and homelessness with knowledge
Gateway Community & Technical College students Samuel and Susan Landis saw a need and recently filled it by forming Maslow’s Army, a nonprofit that serves the homeless and hungry in the northern Kentucky and Cincinnati.
Maslow’s Army, named from Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, is an organization that began by creating a resource guide for the homeless in northern Kentucky and Cincinnati, including where to get food, clothing and shelter. “With all of the resources available in our great cities, there is no reason to go hungry,” the guide reads.
Now, the Landis and volunteers, many of whom who have been homeless themselves, bring services directly to the homeless on the street. “No need for an appointment at an office, Monday-Friday 9-5,” said Samuel Landis. “Having experienced it myself, I know it was too hard to be that organized. I was just trying to survive. This is what I needed when I was on the street, and it wasn’t there for me,” said Landis.
“We listen to the needs of our clients,” said Susan Landis. Once Maslow’s Army knows the need, they bring it: blankets, t-shirts, hats, hygiene products, all donated. “Then, we share our own experience and help build self-esteem,” said Landis.
Samuel and Susan met in a Gateway math class as they were working to get their lives back on track. “We were driven to overcome our challenges,” stated Susan Landis. They were soon married and discovered they not only shared a love for each other, but also a love for helping others.
Susan, the first in her family to go to college, earned her associate’s degree from Gateway and is continuing her studies in social work at Northern Kentucky University. Samuel will do the same when he completes his associate’s degree in Human Services from Gateway. Both are completing courses to earn Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) credentials, so they can assist with basic medical needs of those on the street. Their career goals involve helping the homeless and others who struggle.
Samuel and Susan are not strangers to success or pain. Both were homeless for a period in their lives and struggled with some of the same issues that make homelessness a reality for so many: mental health, drug and alcohol abuse and lack of self-esteem.
Through setting goals, finding networks of support and help, like Gateway, and using the free resources available through the city, they improved their situations. They find it their moral obligation and highest privilege to give back. “Our dream is that as we share our experience, others who find themselves in desperate situations will also find hope,” said Landis.
“We don’t want to give a handout; we want to give a hand up,” said Landis. “We were fortune enough to meet folks at Gateway who believed in us and helped us become who we always were. We just didn’t know it yet.”
If you are interested in learning more about Maslow’s Army, volunteering or donating, contact Samuel or Susan Landis at 859-491-ARMY.