DOVE advocates for faces of the homeless
The Division of Volunteer Efforts will hold its third annual “Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week” from Nov. 15 through Nov. 21.
The week will commence with Mass in Seton Hall’s chapel of the Immaculate Conception on Nov. 15 and finish with a screening of the movie “Kicking It” on Nov. 19 at 7 p.m. in the Pirate’s Cove.
Additional activities will include a “Faces of Homelessness Panel” on Nov. 16 in the Science Center, a Hunger Banquet on Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. in the Campus Ministry Center, and a Fair Trade Market and PB&J for the Hungry on Nov. 18 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Main Lounge.
Senior biology major and student chair of DOVE’s Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week Committee Alyssa Beck said that she was most looking forward to the “Faces of Homelessness” panel, which will include four homeless teen speakers from the Covenant House in New Jersey.
“It’s really eye-opening to see people our own age on the street and homeless,” Beck said. “For me it was a really big wake-up call, and their stories are really inspirational.”
DOVE Director Michelle Sheridan also said the Faces of Homelessness Panel is a very moving experience for students. “They’re the same exact age as the students here at Seton Hall so it’s really a very profound evening, and they are from around here too.”
According to Sheridan, the Homelessness and Hunger Awareness Week is a national event commemorated around the country. Seton Hall first began holding events to raise awareness about hunger and homelessness three years ago, after some interested DOVE students attended a conference on the subject.
Beck joined the committee two years ago when she was a sophomore work study in the DOVE office, after Sheridan suggested it to her. She now heads the committee, which, according to Sheridan, has been working since the very beginning of the school year to put this year’s events together.
“This is my passion,” Beck said, adding that the committee is made up of students from different clubs and organizations in order to get different perspectives. “It’s a very eclectic group.”
Some of the programs, such as the Faces of Homelessness Panel, are done on a national scale, but at Seton Hall, DOVE asks for panelists from the New Jersey area who are about the same age as students here at Seton Hall.
“We have been trying to develop programs specific to the needs of our community,” Beck said.
Another program DOVE is continuing is the Hunger Banquet, where students assume the roles of people from different walks of life.
A DVD from last year’s program showed that a few of the students are fortunate enough to be well-off people, who sit at tables and are served a five-course meal.
Other students became lower-class people, who ate on chairs without tables and had to serve themselves cold appetizers such as mozzarella sticks.
The majority of students, however, became poor people from developing countries and ate soup while sitting on the floor.
There was only a certain amount of soup set out, and if the students ran out, they could not eat any more for the night.
One of the new programs the committee worked on for this year is the Free Trade Market, which allows students to purchase products made in developing countries as per the fair trade organization, 10,000 Villages.
“We’re hoping since it’s near Christmas, students will buy gifts from (the market event),” Beck said.
According to Sheridan, the PB&J event, where students will make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the homeless, is also new this year.
“Everyone is called to do different things, and each person will get a different message from this week, but if we all do one thing, it could go a long way,” Beck said.
Both Sheridan and Beck stressed that students should find their own individual service passion, and do what they can to help that cause.
“It’s a week to educate ourselves on issues we don’t have to face everyday but perhaps should,” Sheridan said.
Caitlin Carroll can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.