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Facebook page highlights the faces of troubled neighborhoods

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – In the six most troubled areas in Indianapolis, we often hear about crime rates and the statistics of families living in poverty. But a local group is working to highlight the people in one of those areas, instead of the statistics.

The Shepherd Community Center is working with IMPD in the New York and Sherman target area on the east side. The Public Safety Department has praised the group’s involvement in the neighborhood.

This summer, Shepherd has started a new effort with a simple Facebook page called “Faces of the City.” 

“Numbers can be so harsh. You don’t get the true story behind it, and you can have such a harsh opinion,” said Jill Height with Shepherd Community Center.

So through Facebook, the group is introducing the world to their neighbors: the people at the food bank, the man who doesn’t have a home – the faces of the city.

“Everybody has something unique to share, something unique to contribute,” said Sam Pence with Shepherd Community Center.

The group hopes to create change through their efforts in the community, and through the Facebook page.

“By getting to know them and know their stories we can empower them to help lead others,” said Height.

Pence and others walk the neighborhood meeting people. He learns their story and then takes a photo. Pence then posts the picture and story to the Faces of the City Facebook page.

“We look specifically for stories that are going to challenge the status quo, that are going to challenge these deeply held presumptions that we have about people living in poverty,” said Pence.

Pence and Height introduced 24-Hour News 8 to Steve Thompson, a man featured on the Facebook page.

“I went looking for a job for a long time. I couldn’t land one at that age,” said Thompson.

In 2012, at 62 years old, Thompson lost his job. At one point, he was living at Wheeler Mission.

“There was lot of people in there looking for jobs, and they couldn’t find them,” said Thompson.

No one could see Steve’s 30-year career or his daily job search. On the surface, no one knew about his grief over his late wife. At the time, people could only see he was homeless. Through the Facebook page, people can learn the real story.

“I just want Shepherd to keep doing what they’re doing. The way they’re doing it,” said Thompson.

“You can connect to stories. You can’t connect to numbers,” said Height.

Faces of the City is also on Instagram and Twitter.