On Feb. 28, the Office of Service, Spirituality and Social Responsibility (SSSR) held a panel to spread awareness about homelessness in the area. The goal was to give people a better perspective about what it means to be homeless, a glimpse at the way of life and what people can do to help alleviate the problem.
At the panel, people who are homeless and formerly homeless were invited to share their experiences. Afterwards the floor was opened for students to ask questions.
This event was just one of the many events held at Wheaton by the SSSR and the Hungry Lyons House to promote awareness surrounding hunger and homelessness. This movement’s main goal is to get Wheaton more involved in the local community through awareness and service, such as helping at the Attleboro Soup Kitchen on the fourth week of every month.
Each panelist shared their own personal tale about their experience being homeless. They dealt with abuse, raising children, drug use, alcoholism and cruelty — all while living alone on the streets and doing their best to survive from day to day. They would work small jobs, move from city to city, try to find places to spend the night just to get by. They lived in a constant state of misfortune, whether growing up under difficult circumstances or losing everything they had later in life.
“It was really amazing to hear what these people had to go through,” said Samuel Hammond ’15 after the event. “It gave me a whole new perspective on homelessness.”
A particularly important point was made by one of the panelists, who talked about the meaning of “home.” The home is a place that people can call their own. When someone lacks that kind of space, it can be devastating. This feeling of despair only escalates over time and after about six months of being homeless, this transience becomes a lifestyle, making it very hard to end the cycle. This, argue the sponsors of the event, is why helping people early on is so important.
Throughout the panel many stories of charity were brought up; there are people all over the country donating their time and money to help others, and many opportunities exist for more to help. This is one of the many reasons SSSR wants Wheaton to be more involved in the local community; we can make a difference in the lives of the homeless.
SSSR will continue to offer opportunities for the Wheaton community to get involved. Those interested should visit the Chapel Basement from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. during the week or send an email to email@example.com.