California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

    Hunger, Homelessness Week Coming to Cal Lutheran

    California Lutheran University will be having its first Hunger and Homelessness week Nov. 13-16. The week will include a movie night, guest speakers, a friendsgiving potluck and opportunities for students to make a difference.

    Cal Lutheran’s Wellness Resources office and Community Service Center have joined together to put on the awareness week, which is a national event created by Villanova University, Wellness Resources intern Chelsea Dunmire said.

    “One in five homeless people in the U.S. either lives in Los Angeles or New York City. The difference is that in New York over 80 percent are sheltered, whereas here it’s the exact opposite – 75 percent are unsheltered. It is a problem here, there are students here who have experiences [with homelessness],” Dunmire said.

    During the awareness week, Cal Lutheran will be collecting donations of: pasta, peanut butter in plastic jars, toilet paper, paper towels, toothpaste and toothbrushes. Collection bins will be available all day Monday through Thursday in the Student Union and library, as well as at every event during the week. Pop sockets will be given to those who donate.

    Donations will be collected on the Spine Monday and Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. On Tuesday, students can also take part in writing letters of advocacy to congressional representatives. Dunmire said there are many laws that affect the homeless by restricting where they are allowed to go and limiting people who want to help.

    Besides the collection drive, there will be events going on throughout the week. The first will be a movie night showing of “The Pursuit of Happyness” in the Student Union Tuesday from 7-9 p.m.

    “One thing that really inspired me when it came to planning this event was Chris Clark, who goes here. He was running for senate this past semester and he used to be homeless and spent the night in foster homes. That really touched me – like, wow, you really never know. I think it’s something that’s important for us to bring to light,” said wellness intern Jessica Gott.

    Gott reached out to Chris Clark, who was more than happy to get involved with the awareness week. He will be speaking and sharing his story Wednesday, Nov. 15 in Swenson 101 from 6-8 p.m. Free Chick-fil-A will be provided for the first 50 students who arrive. The Chick-fil-A cow will also be there handing out coupons.

    “You usually don’t think about it as happening to your peers, we want to bring it closer to home,” Gott said.

    On Thursday, students can stop by the Student Union from 5:30-7 p.m. for the friendsgiving potluck. There they can assemble care packages for homeless individuals and hear from guest speaker Samuel Thomas, a religion professor at Cal Lutheran, who will be discussing the problems of food waste.

    The idea of the care packages is for students to keep them either in their cars or purses, so when they come across someone in need they will have a way to help.

    Gott hopes the awareness week will educate students about the reality of homelessness. “It’s not just to do with substance abuse and older people. It’s people from every age group, ethnicity, socio-economic background that this happens to. We need to care. Every person can do a little something. Every person can keep mini kits that they can give out. Those things can make a big difference for a couple days, week or month depending on what you’re able to give,” Gott said.

    Religion professor Julia Fogg is organizing a service learning trip for students from her Global Jesus class centered around homelessness in Hollywood. Akiko Yasuike and and Brian Collins, both professors at Cal Lutheran, will also be taking students from their philosophy and global studies classes on the trip Nov. 11.

    Fogg does one service learning project a year and chose homelessness as this year’s topic because of the immediacy of the housing crisis.

    “In the last five years, I know more students have been homeless, are homeless while they’re studying, have parents who are homeless while they’re in school here living in a dorm. I know a couple friends of my mine who’ve been homeless or living out of their cars for a time. Even some faculty and staff have had that experience too,” Fogg said.

    Fogg has also previously taken students to observe substandard farmworker housing in Oxnard, which she said is a problem throughout Ventura County as people who work the land live in garages or side by side with rats and cockroaches.

    “I don’t think you have to go to L.A., Hollywood or Ventura. I think if you simply get out of your car and walk around, you quickly run into people,” Fogg said.

    Fogg thinks it’s important for students, faculty and staff to approach the issue of hunger and homelessness from multiple perspectives. In her opinion, a week of awareness is fantastic.

    “Of course we hope to get things collected, but our big goal is to make students aware. This is an issue you should care about and be passionate about because it is affecting you and our community and there are things you can do,” Dunmire said.

    Bridget Sjolie