Building a wall for community



By Lexington Souers

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One UK student is building a wall to break down student homelessness.

Philosophy junior Michael Frazier’s personal experiences, as well as those he had heard from other students on campus, led him to work with UK administration to create a Cats Pay It Forward wall.

“When you’re so burdened by all these troubles, it feels like you can’t breathe,” Frazier said. “You’re trying to breathe but no oxygen is going in, and (you’re) feeling that a simple cup of coffee is just lifting that burden a little bit.”

Frazier experienced homelessness as a child, and could relate to students he was helping when he worked with LGBTQ+ organizations.

The wall has gift cards, money and pre-paid credit cards, but students can also leave encouraging notes on the wall. As well, community resources will be listed there.

The Cats Pay It Forward wall was created by Frazier with the idea that it would create a sense of community, and remove the stigma of asking for help.

“If you want to use the wall to very simply and say ‘To the person who also bombed the chem test, here’s you a cup of coffee,’ you can use that,” Frazier said. “But it starts transcending to be something more.”

One of those who helped Frazier make the wall was Melody Flowers, director of Strategic Analysis in the Office of the Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration.

“The Cats Pay It Forward wall is an opportunity to meet some of the needs of our students, and is a symbol of community and giving,” Flowers said. “People want to be generous and they love the idea of taking care of our own students.”

Frazier said the conversation is far from over and that many organizations need to come together to help struggling students. He hopes students who aren’t struggling will volunteer at the Hope Center or Wildcat Pantry. As well, he hopes that students who are experience homelessness or are struggling know that the wall, as well as other offices on campus, are there for them.

“You’re winning the battle. You’ve won the battle for today,” Frazier said. “There are people that care.”