“IZE on Homelessness” had eyes opening all over campus to the reality of homelessness in America. Starting November 6th through the 14th, SRU Student Nonprofit Alliance, SNA, under the direction of Dr. Alice Del Vecchio hosted a week of events focusing on homelessness. This challenged the SRU community to realIZE that homeless may not be what it seems, empathIZE with those affected by homelessness, and get them to mobilIZE in order to break the cycle. Over the span of those nine days, nine events were held to raise awareness.
The award winning documentary, “Storied Streets,” kicked off the week by showing attendees the real story of homelessness in America. “Crafty IZE” was held during common hour on Tuesday, where attendees could make a craft to raise awareness at SRU about homeless or helping those experiencing homelessness. “Crafty IZE” featured Henna Tattoos by the Art Society, blanket making for the Pittsburgh Red Door Shelter by Rock Catholic, and blessing bag making and “Sock Note” writing by Civic Engagement students. Wednesday into Thursday, from 3pm until 3pm, 35 students from six teams, such as Secondary Education Future Educators Club, braved the frosty weather to be a part of a Cardboard Village in the Quad. Each team donated $10 towards the SRASD Emergency Food Program and had an intensive training prior to spending the night in their cardboard abode, which included sensitivity training regarding people experiencing homelessness, statistics about homelessness in the US and our region, and rules regarding the Cardboard Village conduct. When Del Vecchio asked the Cardboard Village residents on Thursday morning about the experience, one student replied “Point Made! I’ll never view a homeless person in the same way again.” As the cardboard village wrapped up, there was a Rally for the Homeless. The 5th annual Hunger Banquet was held on Monday the 13th in the SSC Ballroom. Over 50 individuals attended this Hunger Banquet and began to understand how extensive the issue is right in our own community. Dr. Alfonso Angelucci, Slippery Rock Area School District superintendent, addressed hunger among students within his district. The Hunger Banquet raised $1004 to support SRASD’s weekend emergency food program which sends easy to prepare meals home with children living in food insecure homes.
The IZE on Homelessness initiative concluded with a panel discussion on Tuesday the 14th featuring Ciara Karnes of the Western PA Continuum of Care, Wendy Kinnear of Education Program for Youth and Children Experiencing Homelessness, Holly Landolfi from Lawrence Country CARES Center, and Allyson Rose from Butler County Human Services Department. Madison Barrish and Michaela Beatties, both in Del Vecchio’s Civic Engagement class, collected nearly 100 pairs of socks, gloves, hats, and scarves which were distributed by additional Civic Engagement students when they brought food to the Net Winter Warming Shelter in Butler.
In response to “IZE on Homelessness week, Dr. Del Vecchio shared, “In a rural community and on a university campus we can be isolated from social issues such as homelessness and hunger. As educated people it is our responsibility to become engaged and grow to understand issues that impact quality of life. During this IZE week, hundreds of SRU students learned and talked about these issues. Moreover, they took action to be part of the solution. They collected winter wear and funds to support the SRASD weekend emergency food program, made food and delivered it to organizations that serve the homeless, and realized that we have much for which to be thankful and that not everyone is as fortunate. They learned that every homeless person has a story and, indeed, given slightly different circumstances that story could be theirs.”
IZE on Adulting takes place April 2-6, 2018 when events will focus on making the transition from student to professional. Scheduled events to date include an Etiquette Dinner and a Dress for Success Fashion Show on Tuesday, April 3rd, as well as workshops focusing on student debt repayment, negotiating a salary for a first job, tips for alums who have made the transition, and legal considerations after graduation.