By Jissella Urquilla
“It’s Closer Than You Think” was the powerful reminder Campus Ministry made in its efforts to raise awareness of hunger and homelessness.
November 12th-November 18th marked Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. The week consisted of service events, educational activities, and providing food for the less fortunate.
The students of the Catholic University of America kicked off Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week (H&H Week) on Monday by participating in the “Street Sense Media Gallery and Poetry Reading” event. During this event, those who attended were able to see some art that raised awareness on the issue of homelessness.
One of the pieces of art consisted of an illustration of the U.S. Capitol with the text “The Health Care Cliff”. The illustration showed an individual struggling to climb up a hill that lead to the U.S. Capitol with bystanders watching him struggle and not helping him.
Speakers also read poetry and shared thoughts that had great impact on their lives in some way. Chon, a speaker at the poetry reading, read a poem which spoke of life’s small blessings.
“The most beautiful thing in the world is being able to wake up in the morning inhaling and exhaling the beautiful morning air,” Chon said.
Students like junior social work major Mike Bondulic thought listening to the experiences of the homeless was an eye-opening moment.
“You can pass someone on the street and forget that they are people,” Bondulic said. “They are just people that have had some tough times. Today I got to see that those are experiencing homelessness can be artists too.”
Throughout the week, CUA students were encouraged to bring nonperishable items and diapers to Mullen Library as part of the “Food for Fines” programs. For every nonperishable item students paid off $1 from their fines and $2 for diaper packages.
Students also practiced solidarity with those experiencing homelessness on Thursday night by sleeping outdoors on the Pryzbyla Lawn while learning about homelessness. Ruthie White, an adjunct professor of the School of Social Work, spoke during the night about the federal housing system, HUD, and the challenges homeless people face in obtaining housing. Participants also watched the movie Entertaining Angels which showcases the like and work of Dorothy Day.
Sheila Gorman, one of the students involved in organizing the sleep out, noted the importance of this event which was held for the first time last year.
“I think it’s important for us to raise awareness on campus for hunger and homelessness while enlightening people about what is going on nationally and inviting them to participate in the national efforts to end hunger and homelessness,” Gorman said.
Campus Ministry also organized an evening food run for students and other participants to deliver food to homeless people in the city.
Throughout the week, members of the CUA community were able to make donations for Thanksgiving dinners. The donations were all given to the Edgewood-Brookland Family Support Collaborative. This group has been around since 1996, and its goal is to “strengthen families and build vibrant communities in Washington D.C.” The group works as a support system that services the communities in Ward 5 and 6.
H&H Week will come to an end on Saturday with a Habitat for Humanity day trip. By this past Monday, the day trip was already filled up with students and a waitlist had to be created. The students will be leaving at 5:30 AM to serve in Havre de Grace, Maryland.
Jess McDowell, a senior at CUA, is looking forward to attending the Habitat for Humanity day trip.
“It’s not necessarily taking people directly off the street but it is giving families a nice place to live for very affordable prices who are maybe living very uncomfortably without it,” McDowell said.