I do campus programming and one of my favorite weeks to host every year is Homeless Awareness Week. Bringing awareness to the issues and realities of homelessness is something that I have been doing on a yearly bases since 2000. It's exciting to see two completely different programs I've started for two colleges and I can honestly say that important programming like this is why I love to do what I do! I really enjoy working with local agencies here in Portland who are helping people without homes and I am so excited to see students want to volunteer their time, energy, and resources to helping others beyond themselves. We had a full week on campus and here are some of the highlights of what I organized :)
PhotoVoice Exhibit:Sisters Of The Road is one of Portland's flagship organizations for helping people in need and doing it with amazing care, dignity, and respect. A few years ago they gave some men and women camera's for a week to document their life without a home and now it is a traveling exhibit and one that we are proud to display for them! I even met Dan, one of the photographers, and he shared quite a bit with me when we were setting up the display the things he was able to overcome by the help given at Sisters of the Road.
Voices From The Street Book Sale:Part two of the PhotoVoice Exhibit is a new book that is a leading resource and fact sharing book on issues surrounding homelessness. I cannot wait to dive into my copy as the facts are taken from Portland...what a great way to learn more about our city and the needs of our neighbors!
WOW...Homeless in Paradise is a remarkably well done movie on the reality of homelessness as it follows four individuals and their journey to living on the streets and what keeps them from an improved life. I was so excited when our librarian called to tell me she bought this for our campus as she thought it would be a great addition to raising awareness and she couldn't be any more correct...it's powerful and thought-provoking!
Collection Drive for Rose Haven Womens Center:Students collected a car load of items to donate to Rose Haven, an INCREDIBLE community and intervention center for women and children without a home and survivors of violent relationships. Sister Cathie (director of the center) came and spoke on how she has dedicated her life to serving woman in need and shared story after story of women and children she helps just a mere few blocks from our campus. The stories were absolutely heartbreaking and all of us left with wet eyes, Sister Cathie included. We were able to donate a large amount (a car load!!!) of feminine hygiene and baby products to help assist the tangible daily needs of the woman and children but still there is so much more that they need, things like a listening ear, a safe place, and most importantly people and services they can trust!
The week ended with a handful of students volunteering alongside our campus director at Operation Nightwatch, a local center for people who are lonely or don't have a place to go in the evenings. I haven't heard how it went but I am sure all involved had an amazing evening of giving to others!