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 have....to be known by someone.