Thinking outside the box

My friends called me crazy for sleeping outside the night before a test. Was it really necessary to sleep outside? Can’t you just donate money or something? However, I was set on doing it. Even in the rain, nothing would deter me from something that I felt so passionate about.

The night was cold, windy and rainy, but it was a good experience in bonding with others who had the same interests. There was a very intimate group of seven people, all members of the executive board of the College’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity, and our advisor, Nino Scarpati. The night also provided a good lesson in becoming more tolerant of others’ attitudes.

There are people who will not take the message with them and only see something fruitless – a bunch of stupid college students sleeping out in the rain to help the fight against homelessness. They think it would be better just to donate money. For me, I wanted to make others aware of the problem, to realize how it must feel not to have a warm place to sleep after a long day.

We simulated the situation of not having a roof over our heads. Set up outside of the student center, there were many people who walked by and saw the event. Some passers-by would just give us strange looks and walk by quickly. Others would donate spare change and even gave us encouraging remarks. Many were surprised to see that there were people inside of the boxes, especially in the morning.

It was this kind of reaction that we hoped to elicit – for others to see that there are students who feel passionate enough about this cause to give up a night in their comfortable beds to sleep outside in boxes on the ground. If we can evoke that emotion in others, this will hopefully inspire them to act. Bringing the homelessness problem to the forefront is essential if we want something to get done. My hope is that someone who witnessed the event was driven to act, and decided to get involved.

This year, we were lucky enough to get coverage from mtvU, the college MTV network. Perhaps this coverage can help spread greater awareness of homelessness to students. There are plenty of opportunities to get involved, and we are fortunate that the results of our labor are apparent. The more houses that we build, the more people will have simple, decent, affordable housing. We invite all students to contact our club and get involved. It is never too late.