|Homeless for 24 hours|
|Written by Laura Green|
|Monday, 31 October 2011|
Eleven students battled the bitter weather for 24 hours in order to raise funds and awareness in the fight against homelessness
Do you know where you will lay your head tonight? When your next meal will be? How about where you will get your next drink of water?
There are people all over the world who live without a home and cannot answer these questions.
For 11 students from the community and justice services program, this was their reality for 24 hours, when they lived on the street to raise money for homeless children in Ottawa.
“This event gives them a glimpse of the realities of the lives of some of their future clients,” said Cat Baron, professor for the community and justice services program.
“They will be working with people who may have experienced homelessness, who have had to rely on the community for their basic needs. They learned that it feels good to give back – to make a small personal sacrifice in order to benefit an agency and bursary that needs support,” said Baron.
The event took place from 2 p.m. on Oct. 14 to 2 p.m. on Oct. 15 at Minto Park on Elgin Street. The students asked passersby for spare change to help raise funds for Operation Come Home, an organization specializing in getting homeless youth off the streets.
They were met with mixed reactions: some people being very generous, and others simply ignoring the cause and walking by.
“Not everyone’s receptive to it and that helps us understand what it’s actually like,” said participant Foster Hilt.
Throughout their 24-hour experience, the students were able to raise well over $6000, which was slightly less compared to the previous seven years that this event has been running, partially because of the bad weather.
Aside from raising funds, the event aimed to help the participants gain a better understanding of the struggles that homeless people experience every day.
“My views on homeless people have changed quite extensively since this event,” said Hilt. “Having the ability to speak with homeless individuals and listen to what they have gone through allowed me to empathize and realize that "homeless" is just a label; homeless people are people just like you and me, they just need help.”
Sarah Pierce, another participant in the event said, “I would do this over again in a heart beat. I'm a better person because of the event. It really helps open your eyes to what it is like.”
The participants this year were met with pouring rain and freezing cold temperatures, but were able to stick it out. They slept on tarps beneath picnic tables and had sleeping bags to keep them warm. When the 24 hours was over, the students were able to pack up and go home to a warm bed and a meal, a luxury homeless people don’t get to experience.
“By their second year [in the program], most students have learned that their perceptions are not correct. They lose that attitude. They get it now,” said Baron.
Along with their sleeping bags and tired bodies, the students brought home something irreplaceable: an understanding of those less fortunate that couldn’t have been provided in a better way.
“I am much more grateful to have a roof over my head and to know when I will be eating my next meal. I had no idea what it was like to have nothing and because of that I appreciate everything that I have more,” said Hilt.
|Last Updated ( Monday, 31 October 2011 )|
|< Prev||Next >|