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ASI promotes homeless awareness among students

Senior+child+development+and+family+studies+major+Lauren+Randazzo+talks+to+electrical+engineering+graduate+student+Shonak+Simlote+about+the+Thomas+House+Temporary+Shelter+at+the+Hope+for+the+Homeless+event+on+the+USU+Southwest+Terrace+on+Monday.+
Senior child development and family studies major Lauren Randazzo talks to electrical engineering graduate student Shonak Simlote about the Thomas House Temporary Shelter at the Hope for the Homeless event on the USU Southwest Terrace on Monday.

Senior child development and family studies major Lauren Randazzo talks to electrical engineering graduate student Shonak Simlote about the Thomas House Temporary Shelter at the Hope for the Homeless event on the USU Southwest Terrace on Monday.

Todd Johnson

Todd Johnson

Senior child development and family studies major Lauren Randazzo talks to electrical engineering graduate student Shonak Simlote about the Thomas House Temporary Shelter at the Hope for the Homeless event on the USU Southwest Terrace on Monday.

Cristal Loza, Staff Writer

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Robert Guevarra, a junior pre-nursing major, admitted that he didn’t know homelessness could affect anyone, even students.

“I never noticed that there were actually students out there sleeping in their cars,” Guevarra said. “People need to be aware of that at least to help out.”

Associated Students Inc.’s event Hope for the Homeless aimed to help educate students about homelessness in general and to provide resources, according to Keya Allen-Littleton, University Student Union programs supervisor. Tables sat along the Southwest Terrace of the USU, providing information on shelters, substance abuse and outreach organizations.

According to 2011 homeless count statistics in Long Beach, there were a total of 3,704 homeless adults and 586 homeless children in 2011.

Donations, including canned food and dried food, received at the event went to the University Interfaith Center on campus, according to Christine Haddad, ASI community service commissioner, who organized the event.

“We invited food banks, shelters, recovery clinics, and we are having a food drive for canned food and dry food,” Haddad said. “Students who can’t afford to buy food, they go [to the University Interfaith Center] and they give them food.”

It’s the first time ASI put on an event like this, according to Haddad.

“We had about five different restaurants on Second Street donate for the canned food drive,” she said.

Gabe Salazar, a professional youth speaker, spoke at the event. Salazar spoke on his experience of living in poverty while growing up, moving from place to place and getting evicted everywhere he and his family went.

“My message to students all across America is that no matter where you’re from, it doesn’t matter what has happed in your life,” Salazar said. “Great things can happen in your life, even if you come from a homeless background.”

Tammy Michaels, from the Los Angeles Task Force, also spoke at the event and talked about her experience of volunteering with Helping Other People Eat (HOPE) in Santa Monica.

“We see cycles [of homeless people],” she said. “We see kids. We see a lot of women now, more women now than I’ve ever seen before.”

Michaels encouraged people at the event to volunteer their time at the shelter.

“I just stopped one day and started doing it … All you have to do is show up and smile,” Michaels said. “It’s addicting.”

Ivette Moreira, a sophomore accounting major, said she thought the event was well organized and informative.

“I didn’t know that you can go into the shelter and just help out,” Moreira said. “I think I’m going to do that.”

According to Allen-Littleton, ASI tried to look at all aspects of homelessness, including campus groups and outside organizations that were relevant to homelessness.

“It’s good that we focus on the different things like mental health, substance abuse and how [people] become homeless,” Allen-Littleton said. “It’s more common than [people] think.”
 

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