Lake Forest Academy students recently got a first-hand account from the CCH Speakers Bureau of what it’s like to live without a home, as well as an opportunity to write letters to their legislator to express their views and advocate for programs that help the homeless.
Charles Jenkins, Stephanie Hooker, and Charles Austin talked about their experiences being homeless during the Friday (Jan. 18) evening event. They advised students on how they can make their voices heard and be involved in solving this problem.
The North Shore students took part in a service learning weekend — “Human Rights and Urban Affairs” — arranged by the Civic Education Project. The teens spent Friday working at 2 Li’l Fishes meal program and Cornerstone Community Outreach shelter in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood before settling in for an evening of activities and games at the downtown HI-Chicago Hostel.
CCH speakers put a face to the issue of homelessness that many of the students had not had to consider in a deep way before. A question-and-answer period and one-on-one time at the end of the session showed a compassionate and concerned student body eager to learn and help. Among other things, the students asked the speakers about the best way to communicate with homeless people on the street and how they can best contribute their energy to fighting homelessness.
Our speakers encouraged students to get involved in collective action, encouraging them to help contact lawmakers and gather friends for volunteer opportunities.
Charles Jenkins talked about the empowerment and responsibility he felt being able to work for this cause. He encouraged students to look for the same within themselves.
Or as Charles put it, “Don’t talk about it, be about it!”
Afterward, some students said that they were growing to recognize that “homelessness does not reduce or effect one’s humanity” and that we need to “defend the defenseless. If we cannot protect them, what good is anything else?” Student were then given time to write letters to their state representative.
After a long day the students were still thoughtful and energized and very gracious in thanking the speakers for their time. CCH would like to thank the Civic Education Project and Lake Forest Academy for their care and concern around the issue of homelessness in our city.
– Jim Lacy, Media Volunteer