Friday, November 20, 2009

UIS students give a voice to some of Springfield's homeless

We're fortunate to serve on a university campus where service and social justice issues are given considerable attention. This week was Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week on campus, and students collected items for the food bank, donated coffee mugs for Washington Street Mission, and many participated in the Oxfam banquet.

But how do you raise awareness about a population who we as a society really prefer to keep at a distance? Students from Christian Student Fellowship brought those voices to campus this week with their "Voices of the homeless in Springfield, IL" living exhibit. Positioned at the entrances to several university buildings, students shared some of their stories.

Afterwards, several of the students commented on how it felt to be faceless, to have people avert their eyes or walk by without slowing down to acknowledge you.

What outcome were we looking for?

Our prayer is that we would begin to see the homeless in Springfield differently. To know that the person sleeping on the bench at the library downtown or standing outside of the breadline has a story. They have a family. They had a job at one time. and maybe an education. Some of them want to work, but don't know how. They've had horrible things happen to them...or have done horrible things to others. They are scared. or sick. or ashamed. And they share the same need college students and soccer moms and insurance agents and college professors be known by someone.

1 comment:

Bethany said...

You could take your kids back to East Colfasx in downtown Denver. That sure was an eye opener for me! Sadly, it took going to another state to get me to see the plight of the homeless... but it worked! I will never be the same!

Thanks again, Gretchen, for all you do to shape the worldview of your students! I am one who has benefited from it!