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Graduate fellowship named for Joe Fahy, a newspaper reporter known as a champion of the poor and disenfranchised

Amanda Lamb with D. William Moreau Jr.
Amanda Lamb with D. William Moreau Jr. View print-quality imageJoe Fahy
Joe Fahy View print-quality image

Published:

October 25, 2012

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The Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention and the Indiana University School of Social Work have announced a graduate fellowship named for Joe Fahy, a former newspaper reporter in Indianapolis and Pittsburgh, planning director at CHIP and a champion of society’s voiceless and vulnerable.

The Joseph W. Fahy Graduate Fellowship carries a $5,000 stipend paid for by a gift from D. William Moreau Jr., board member and past chair of CHIP’s Board of Directors, and his wife, Ann. The student awarded the fellowship will work closely with CHIP’s paid staff and volunteers to implement the Blueprint to End Homelessness, the first comprehensive homelessness plan adopted by a large U.S. city. CHIP is a nonprofit organization leading the implementation of the plan that was created in 2002.

The first recipient of the fellowship is Amanda Lamb, a Master of Social Work student at the IU School of Social Work. Applicants for the fellowship were asked to submit a 1,200 word essay on the pursuance of the fellowship, a resume with three references, and an unedited writing sample, separate from the 1,200 word essay.

Fahy died at the age of 54 in 2008. Colleagues remember him as an earnest, thoughtful and soft-spoken newspaperman whose religious faith inspired his passion for aiding the poor and the powerless in society. Fahy treated everyone he encountered with uncommon courtesy, dignity and respect.

Stories of the aid he extended to people he met as a journalist abound. A former editor at The Indianapolis Star and The Indianapolis News tells aspiring young journalists about his coverage of a woman who was struggling to support herself financially: “Her job at McDonald’s required that she mop up when the restaurant closed,” said Nancy Comiskey, an instructor at the Indiana University School of Journalism. “One night when he knew she would be tired, Joe went over to help her. I won’t ever forget the image of the reporter who cared more about the person than ‘the source.’”

Fahy channeled this care for others into a tenacious pursuit of accountability, whether skewering errant nursing home operators, incompetent bureaucrats or elected officials, many of them disarmed by his earnest smile and infectious laugh.

After leaving The Indianapolis Star, Fahy joined CHIP in 2000 as planning director. He became the principal researcher and author of the Blueprint to End Homelessness. The number of Indianapolis residents recorded to be homeless has been cut by half since adoption of the Blueprint.

“While the Blueprint belongs to the entire city of Indianapolis, it would not exist without Joe Fahy’s thorough research and clear-eyed writing,” said former Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson, whose administration spearheaded the local focus on homelessness issues. “When added to Joe’s remarkable body of work for The News and The Star, Joe has left an enduring legacy for all of us who call Indianapolis home.”