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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Info & Experiments in Homelessness ~ Part 1

228. Not a batting average, but a sandwich count.

45. No, again, not a batting average. (Could it even be a batting average? I haven't a clue.)  Rather, it is the amount of time it took 13 third graders to compile 228 sandwiches given a school's worth of bread, cheese, and lunch meat donations.

The purpose--one of 3 wintertime sandwich making sessions for Happy Helpers for he Homeless, an organization started in 1983 by 10 yr old Amber Coffman.  Eagle Cove School has been connected with Happy Helpers for 16 years.  In the 6 years that I have been at ECS, my class as been making sandwiches, averaging about 600 a year.  That's a good 3,600 sandwiches in my tenure alone! That's something that certainly feels good to be a part of!

This year, homelessness had a face--that of Dean Wright, my college roomie's husband.

No, Carrie did not kick him to the curb.  Dean is the Executive Director for the Freeport Area Church Cooperative (FACC).  As a plan to to bring awareness to the homelessness situation, he has voluntarily embarked on a 10 night adventure of homelessness in his Illinois hometown.  He embarked on this quest this past Monday, November 26, planning to continue through December the 6th.  He is doing 3-10 minute video web-logs telling of his experiences.  Here's his video following his first night out in the 20 degree frigid Illinois temperatures.

This became an excellent way for me to share the meaning of our sandwich making with my 8 and 9 year olds.  (Especially once they came to terms with the fact that one, he is not truly homeless; two, he is doing this voluntarily; and three, no, homeless people probably don't have a Facebook page.).  So we made our 228 Maryland sandwiches in honor of "Illinois Dean," who would be sleeping out int he world tonight.

Watching the videos, I find it fascinating (not only because I know Dean), but by the way his experience has of course led him to think about things.  It also becomes such an eye opening experience for anyone watching him candidly speak about it.  There's a true perspective shift that occurs, on so many topics:
  • What truly is important in life?  
  • How much do we each take for granted? (Like the toasty comfort of one's bed or the ability to get a glass of water when you are thirsty in the middle of the night!!)
  • How do we treat people, based on perceptions alone?
Parallel that out with the upcoming holiday season, it really, truly, completely makes you think!
One of my favorite "episodes" so far of Dean's has been the morning of Day 4, when he said:
"You know what I was thinking?  Everyone should be passionate about something. Anything. It may not be homeless people.  It may be something else. That's okay. Things don't get done when people don't have passion about things. ... Sometime I just don't see some of the passion that I think think we need to see in our community.  When people have passion, and they're a motivated leader--whatever they're doing, things get done.  They get done!...  I want to inspire and try to motivate people today. If helping homeless people is not your gig, that's okay. Find what your gig is. Go out there and passionately pursue it for the sake of your community.  Just for the sake of your own heart. I think we could use a lot more that everywhere.  I guess that's just what I will leave you with here today."
So now it is like the latest soap opera.  We can't miss an episode.  We need to see what Dean is up to, and how he survived the latest night.  Funny, this "addiction," as I am not keen on reality TV shows of any sort.  But this IS reality... and truly an eye opening experience.  This IS what's worth watching.

To see more news about Dean Wright's Homelessness Experience, check out this news article or Dean's web-log videos.

For a list of ideas of things to donate to your nearby homeless shelters (including wool socks), check out the Homelessness Shelter Directory.

For a list of 35 ways you can help the homeless, check out JustGive.org

Stay tuned for Part 2, where I'll share some interesting infographics and calculators on the subject. 



Dean’s web-log videos from http://m.youtube.com/user/FACC514. photos from a friend of our sandwich making experience.

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