110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
By MATT GERKEN
posted Oct 28, 2013 - 1:33:35pm
A little complex of cardboard homes was built Oct. 17 on the Stetson University campus, but it wasn’t because the school has run out of dormitory space.
The cardboard neighborhood was the creation of Stetson’s Habitat for Humanity Chapter and the Student Homeless Coalition for the fifth annual Homeless for a Night Event.
There was even a contest to judge the best cardboard structure. The Alpha Tau Omega fraternity won first place, Alpha Xi Delta's “boathouse” took second, and Sigma Phi Epsilon's “jailhouse” came in third.
Students constructed their houses out of boxes and lived in them for the night. They listened to guest speakers knowledgeable about hunger and homelessness, and watched videos showcasing the realities of homelessness.
Roughly 125 Stetson students attended. Speakers were Earl Mallory, president of the West Volusia Habitat for Humanity board , Brian Boehs, a board member with Southwest Volusia Habitat for Humanity, and Sue Remington, volunteer coordinator for Southwest Volusia Habitat for Humanity. All of the speakers work with homeless or low-income families.
The speakers’ presentations were followed by a discussion with students about homelessness, hunger, and affordable housing.
The movie The Soloist, based on the true story of a homeless Julliard-trained musician and a newspaper writer who seeks to help him, was shown.
The event generated $503, which will be split between Southwest Volusia Habitat for Humanity and West Volusia Habitat for Humanity to aid their efforts to provide affordable homeownership to low-income families. A small part of the proceeds will also help Stetson Habitat for Humanity and the Student Homeless Coalition fund future projects.
Students who participated learned to recognize false stereotypes about homeless people, and were awakened to the risks of homelessness. Students who spent the full night woke up cold and covered in dew, realizing that when you are homeless, you cannot just go inside to escape cold or rain.
Several DeLand businesses helped make the event possible, including Bellini’s Delicatessen, Health Foods for Life, Boston Coffeehouse, Conrad Realty Co., The West Volusia Beacon, Taco Amigo, Enchanted Botanicals, the Rivertown Antique Mall, Backhome Antiques, the Music Exchange, TransMobile LLC, Lace and Accessories, Insurance Land Inc., Carasells Pop-Culture Collectibles, Dick and Jane's, Casey's on the Corner, Santorini Greek Cuisine, Aadvantage Insurance Agency, Kathryn's Beads and Baubles, and Thunder City Derby Sirens.
Assisting in the planning and organization were Stetson Habitat for Humanity Vice President John Massey and Student Homeless Coalition President Amber Finnicum-Simmons.
— Gerken is president of Stetson Habitat for Humanity, a Student Homeless Coalition leader, and an organizer of TEDx, a group for students interested in technology, art and design.
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