The Landis Center has held a week-long series of events in late November for years, but 2013’s Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week was the most successful by many standards in recent memory.
“Certainly the diversity and variety of events was better compared to years before,” Dr. Bonnie Winfield, an advisor for the week, said. This is the tenth of Lafayette’s Weeks Winfield has witnessed. “There were so many offerings that covered the span of the issue. This went beyond past years.”
Lafayette’s Landis Center hosted the variety of events in the full week before Thanksgiving Break, co-sponsored by dozens of campus organizations and academic departments. The week began with a few evenings crafting fleece scarves around Farinon’s fireplace and weekend service opportunities to make sandwiches, then the next day to distribute the lunches and scarves to the homeless population of Philadelphia. Brown bag lunches were scheduled every day and documentaries shown each evening. Lunch discussion topics ranged from the disproportionately high number of homeless teens identifying as LGBTQ to the lives of Easton’s homeless shelter’s residents, as told by them.
Marquis dining hosted a Hunger Banquet, at which students were randomly assigned a socioeconomic standing and served a meal typical of that group is able to afford. Tina Kelley, author of Almost Home: Helping kids move from homelessness to hope, led a discussion on her research and writing about child homelessness and poverty.
“We want students to be informed that homelessness can happen to anyone; it doesn’t just happen to one group of people,” Jessie Northgrave ‘14 said. Northgave is a team leader of Landis’ MOSAIC staff, and worked with the team of nine MOSAIC staff to organize the week. “We want to rid stereotypes from our vocabulary when talking about the homeless.”
“The way people can help is just by being active citizens in their own community and at Lafayette,” Northgrave continued. “It’s important to know what decisions politicians are making that will affect those that are below the poverty line and those that are homeless.”
A main goal of the week was to erase misconceptions many people have towards homelessness and realize how prevalent it is.
“It can happen to anyone at anytime; who’s to say it won’t happen to me?” Northgrave said.