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Early lessons for students at Five Days for the Homeless
Posted: March 20, 2017 12:30 p.m.
Students taking part in Five Days for the Homeless are (l-r) Joshua Exner, faculty of science; Rebecca Perigny, faculty of business administration; Siobhan Neary, faculty of social work; Sasha Shupe, faculty of arts; and Paige McNabb, faculty of education. Photo: External Relations
To help raise awareness of homelessness – and to help raise money for Carmichael Outreach – five U of R students are sleeping outside for five days.
“I think it’s a good way to get people involved, and give some people some hands-on experience and spread the message,” says Paige McNabb of the faculty of education.
The idea is to give the students an idea of what it’s like to be homeless. Although they are continuing to attend classes, at night they’re camped out in sleeping bags just outside the main entrance to the Riddell Centre, and their diet consists of donations of food from strangers.
“We are not allowed to eat or drink anything that is not donated,” explains Shioban Neary, a student in the faculty of social work.
On the first of the five days, she said, “We haven’t had a meal yet today. It’s 10:30 a.m., and we’ve been up since 5:00 a.m. We’ve each had one muffin and coffee. I definitely usually have more than a muffin for breakfast. So it makes you appreciate what you have.”
Rebecca Perigny from the faculty of business administration, is cold and tired after sleeping outside – and she’s also missing the food she normally eats. “I had a muffin and some coffee, and that’s OK for now – but I’m hungry. It really affects you. My energy is down.”
“The biggest adjustment was the weather,” says Neary. “It was quite windy last night, although we did make it work. It’s just something we’re not used to. We’re used to just turning up the heat or putting on more blankets. We each just had one sleeping bag, so we have make do with what we have.”
Less than 24 hours into the Five Days, Perigny is already looking at things quite differently.
“I’m definitely more grateful for everything, especially my bed. I didn’t realize how the weather affects you. I’m so grateful for the shelter I have, and all the support I have in my life,” she says.
|Students inside the Riddell Centre are also helping the cause, collecting donations for Five Days for the Homeless. Photo: External Relations|
Also taking part Five Days for the Homeless are Joshua Exner from the faculty of science and Sasha Shupe from the faculty of arts.
Five Days for the Homeless began at the University of Alberta in 2005, and since then has expanded to 19 universities across Canada. Last year, more than $200,000 was raised across the country. At the top of the list was the U of R, where more than $37,000 was raised. Each university selects a local partner to receive the funds, and this year the U of R is again partnering with Carmichael Outreach.
“I recently did my practicum at Carmichael, so I was able to see how significantly important this money is, and how many areas and how wide they spread it,” says Neary.
“I think Carmichael is so important because it reaches out to so many people in the community, and they help them whether they’re dealing with poverty or addictions or trauma,” says Perigny.
There are a number of events being held throughout the week, including Burger Night Fundraiser on Wednesday, March 22nd at Browns Social House Eastgate between 5:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. A burger, fries or sweet potato fries and beer or soda costs $25. For tickets, please email Cyrena at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And on Thursday March 23rd, the campaign moves downtown with a donation day on the Scarth Street Mall from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
“I got involved because I want to make a difference in our city and in our community. I want to help those who don’t have access to the resources that we normally take for granted. I couldn’t imagine doing this forever. It makes me really feel bad for those who have to deal with this forever. One week for us is going to feel like a long time. It makes me feel more grateful for what I have – and we hope to educate other people,” says Perigny.