Moments of Dignity

Eastern’s YACHT Club Serves Individuals Experiencing Homelessness in Our City

There are over 500,000 individuals experiencing homelessness in the United States, many without access to food, clothing, and other important resources.1 While the prevalence of this problem is a sobering reality, students at Eastern have a legacy of taking action to forge friendships and serve this population in Philadelphia through Eastern’s YACHT Club.

The YACHT Club, which stands for “Youth Against Complacency and Homelessness Today,” was founded to help bridge gaps and bring moments of justice to those experiencing homelessness.

Before it was a club, YACHT was a student movement. It started with a newspaper article in 1995 announcing the impending eviction of 40 homeless families from an abandoned Philadelphia cathedral. Burdened by the weight of this news, a group of Eastern students, including Shane Claiborne ’97, headed into North Philly to offer their support, listen to the stories, and stand in solidarity with these under-resourced men, women, and children.

The never-ending waitlist for subsidized housing and a concern that the government would take custody of their children weighed heavily on these families, but what could college students do to alleviate the burden?2

What started as a small group of students jumping in their car and heading to St. Edward's Church eventually became over 100 Eastern students standing in solidarity, advocating for these neighbors, and living out Matthew 25:40: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”2

By elevating these voices, many families finally received housing from government agencies and charitable housing donations.2 And from this experience, YACHT club was born.

The club currently meets weekly to prepare meals for those experiencing homelessness in Philly. Then, every Thursday and Saturday, the group heads to Suburban Station and Logan Square in Center City to hand out meals, listen to stories, love intentionally, and build relationships – continuing the legacy that started 28 years ago.

“Feeding hearts, minds, and the innate desire for connection is our mission,” shares current YACHT Club president and social work major Emma Best ’25. 

“Bringing awareness to this issue is deeply connected to Eastern’s foundation of Faith, Reason, and Justice. Our hope is that through our resources and shared humanity, we can grow our community and create moments of justice and dignity for the people we meet.

1Source: US Department of Housing and Urban Development 

2The Irresistible Revolution, Living as an Ordinary Radical by Shane Claiborne ’97

This article was originally featured in the Spring 2023 Edition of Eastern Magazine. View the full magazine here.