THE SANTA CLARA
February 27, 2014
Campus events promote community solidarity
Here at our beautiful school filled with students who have grown up with a roof over their heads and food on their plates, it may seem surprising that the Silicon Valley holds the nation’s fifth-highest homeless population.
For the second year in a row, Santa Clara has designated an annual Homelessness Week, during which on-campus organizations collaborate and host different events that educate the community.
These events also strive to challenge the stigmas and stereotypes associated with homelessness, and the week puts a particular focus on the South Bay area.
Homelessness is not an issue many people discuss on a daily basis, but it is certainly a prominent issue that the Santa Clara Community Action Program, Multicultural Center and Campus Ministry hope to raise awareness about on campus.
Homelessness Week also aims to engage in advocacy efforts and teach students about how they can form connections and interact with underprivileged individuals and families.
To begin the week-long series of events, a film screening of “Light in the Shadows” took place. It incorporated real art, music and photographs from homeless youth in the Santa Clara area. The film featured roles played by homeless youth who shared their experiences in foster care and life on the streets. The film further discussed how to utilize art for social justice as a whole.
On Tuesday afternoon, students were given the opportunity to volunteer on campus with an organization called HomeSafe, a domestic violence shelter based in Santa Clara and San Jose. They played outdoor games, made arts and crafts and interacted with local mothers and children from HomeSafe.
In addition, a speaker panel from Downtown Streets Team, consisting of formerly homeless individuals from the South Bay area, visited campus and shared their personal stories on Wednesday.
Students learned about what leads to life on the streets and how different individuals overcame homelessness and found permanent employment and housing.
Tonight, the community is welcomed to attend the Candlelight Vigil held at the Multifaith Sanctuary from 6:15 to 6:45 p.m., in remembrance of all the homeless across the nation who have died due to hypothermia and the harsh winter weather.
On Friday, students can look forward to the Tent City Simulation on the Kenna Hall Lawn from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., when a number of visual exhibits will be present to educate individuals about the stereotypes and various faces of homelessness in San Jose, including those of color, the mentally ill, veterans and teens.
At the event, student leaders will be available to answer questions and provide information about advocacy and activism options.
“Hack for the Homeless” will also take place in the Locatelli Student Activity Center from 5 p.m. on Friday to 7 p.m. on Saturday. This event is an exciting coding competition to create mobile applications for the homeless, such as text alerts for shelter availability and health care reminders to take certain medications.
To conclude Homelessness Week, on Saturday, Campus Ministry will lead an Interfaith Service Opportunity from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. to share food, coffee and conversation with the homeless at St. James Park in San Jose.
SCCAP leader David Beezer hopes that Homelessness Week raises awareness, encourages students and challenges stereotypes.
“There are a lot of reasons why a person can be homeless,” he said. “It’s an issue of poverty, and many families are living one missed paycheck, one illness or one accident away from being on the streets.”
Those who participate in the week of events can seek to gain a deeper understanding and compassion for the homeless community.
Ultimately, SCCAP, the MCC and Campus Ministry hope that Homelessness Week will educate students on the realities of homelessness while also providing valuable opportunities for service and social change.
Contact Victoria Yu at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.