Homelessness: Living a Day in Their Shoes

In the Park

Two Globe University students wanted to take their service-learning project with a homeless shelter a step further.  Amber Culbert and Melissa Parnow, enrolled in the Global Citizenship class at Globe University -Eau Clairechose to get their hands on learning about a social issue at Sojourner House, a homeless shelter sponsored by Catholic Charities, that serves homeless single adult males and females in the Eau Claire area.

These students started by interviewing the Sojourner House director, Dan Robinson, and by touring the facility.  The two students joined other students from the class in volunteering at the Sojourner House for a  couple of nights assisting with “intake” procedures of the homeless coming to the shelter for an overnight stay.

While serving there, Amber and Melissa, along with Heidi Lang, Brandi Turnmire, and Laurie Boettcher, helped the Sojourner staff with a variety of activities. The students registered guests for the night, administered Breathalyzer tests, scheduled showers and laundry opportunities for the guests. The students were then given an opportunity to mingle with the guests.

Amber and Melissa were curious about where the homeless guests spent their daytime hours as the shelter does not open until 7:00 PM. They interviewed a number of guests to find out how they spend their day. Amber and Melissa decided to take this information and spend a day “living in the shoes” of a homeless person.

Positive Avenues

The pair found out that most of the homeless spend the majority of their day blending in with the rest of the population. They may enjoy time in one of the downtown parks. On cool and rainy days their time may be spent on the computers or reading in the  L.E.Phillips Library. There is also space at Positive Avenues,sponsored by Lutheran social Services, located below the Community Table that is available for the homeless population during day time hours. Here the homeless can play cards, socialize, seek services, and relax in a warm and comfortable environment.

Amber and Melissa found the day interesting as they moved from place to place to avoid loitering fines that could be imposed on them. At the end of the day, the pair was thankful to take off their shoes and go to their own comfortable homes. The pair learned that the homeless are “really just like us and just want someone to talk to.”