Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Campuses, VISTAs serve and learn during Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week

The week before Thanksgiving is a time when many college campuses focus on the needs of community members who are struggling to find food and shelter. Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week, an event co-sponsored by the National Coalition for the Homeless and National Student Campaign Against Hunger & Homelessness, takes place this year November 16-24; and many of our VISTAs are leading or supporting related programs on their campuses.

At Western Carolina University, VISTA Willie Jones coordinated a week of events, including an Everything Drive to collect donations for United Christian Ministries and the Community Table, an Oxfam Hunger Banquet, and a five-day interactive poverty simulation called Live Below the Line. Willie also helped organized a partnership with Aramark, so that for every $100 spent on Nov. 18 at the campus convenience, Aramark would donate a turkey to the Community Table.

In Boone, VISTA Brittany Johnson of the Hospitality House is working with Appalachian State University's ACT office to organize the 3rd Hunger Games, which raises canned food donations to support Hospitality House's Bread of Life Community Kitchen. Already, 1600 cans have been collected. The Hunger Games event takes place this Friday at 5 p.m. on Duck Pond Field off of Stadium Drive in Boone. Read the High Country Times article on the event.

At UNC-Greensboro, VISTA Devin Corrigan has worked with a team of student leaders to coordinate a week-long slate of events, including a panel discussion with local advocates, non-profit staff, and community members facing challenges of hunger and homelessness; a campus/community food drive to collect canned food items for the Spartan Open Pantry, UNCG's students/staff food bank; and a Thursday evening service event at Second Harvest Food Bank in Winston-Salem. Devin's VISTA work supports a partnership between UNCG and the Interactive Resource Center, a day-center in Greensboro serving people at risk of homelessness, and she drew on this relationship in planning the week.

 At Wake Forest University, VISTA Anna Donze has coordinated a screening of the documentary Inocente (Wed., 7 PM, Byrum Welcome Center), which tells the story of an undocumented 15-year old girl's struggle with homelessness and the San Diego arts organization that offers her a creative outlet. The film ties the issue of homelessness to Anna's work with her community partner, El Buen Pastor Latino Community Services, and an on-campus group, NERD (Network for Educational Resources and Development), a coalition of WFU student service organizations involved in community-based mentoring and tutoring. Among other WFU Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week events is Campus Kitchen's annual Turkeypalooza. Check out the Channel 14 local news story on Turkeypalooza!

At UNC-Pembroke, VISTA Dalton Hoffer has worked with a team of student mentors to host a community Thanksgiving dinner at his community partner, the Pembroke Housing Authority. Student volunteers will decorate gingerbread houses with children, then serve a dinner to the children and their families. Dalton expects about 100 community members to attend.

If your campus also recognizes Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week, please email us to share your story.

Graphic courtesy of UNCG's Office of Leadership and Service-Learning.