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Idea Of The Year

Recently we were invited to witness an exercise in humility.  Make a group of kids spend the night in cardboard boxes and eat their dinner from a tin can.  Spend the night in a cardboard box like a homeless person.  I like this a lot. Meet Jane Ramos who, with the help of teachers Heather Jordan and Amy Williams, set out to install some humility into their students.  Yup, H-U-M-I-L-I-T-Y. I love this idea!

My name is Jane Ramos. I am a teacher at St. Joseph Catholic School in Farmington. For the second year, we hosted our Homeless for a Night Confirmation service project. Students were asked to participate in this activity to familiarize themselves with the realities of homelessness, to gain firsthand knowledge about homelessness and how it is a growing crisis, to view the world through the eyes of a homeless person and to become familiar with the social services network for homeless people.

Students were asked to participate in this activity to familiarize themselves with the realities of homelessness...

Students were asked to bring a box, a sleeping bag, and canned food items. One canned food item was contributed to our dinner. Additional items were used to barter for opportunities like extra trips to the restroom, extra blankets, additional food, etc. These items were donated to the St Vincent de Paul Food Pantry. The food pantry gave us a list of needed items ahead of time. These items were worth a greater “value” in bartering. Students began the evening by setting up their homes. Boxes were set up and locations to sleep were selected on the playground. Students set up a boy camp and a girl camp. Locations were chosen based on the direction of the wind, dampness of the ground, and proximity to their friends. The ground was rather wet from rain the day before and that morning. Students then gathered and were asked to describe a homeless person. Most answers included someone without a home, a job, or any money. They expressed a disheveled appearance. Next, the students were assigned homeless identities. Some of these characters were based on actual homeless people across the country.

The students quickly learned that their perception of the homeless was not entirely correct. Many homeless people do indeed have jobs. Some have college degrees and even had professional training or are military service veterans.Many are homeless due to mental health issues and substance abuse issues. Homeless is defined as someone who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or similar reason. They are living in motels, hotels, campgrounds, cars, parks, public spaces, and abandoned buildings to name a few.


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