Cal Poly’s Beyond Shelter is hosting Homelessness Awareness Week from April 23 to 29 in hopes of raising awareness of San Luis Obispo’s homelessness problem.
Among the events scheduled for next week, there is a walk to fight homelessness starting at Santa Rosa Park that will continue downtown on Saturday, April 29. The walk starts at 10 a.m. with check-in at 9 a.m. and includes a free barbecue in the afternoon. Sign-ups or donations are not necessary for people to join.
By hosting the walk to fight homelessness, Beyond Shelter hopes to achieve its goal $10,000 in donations to give to various shelters throughout the community. All students are encouraged to join if they are interested in helping the homeless shelters in town, said Sarah Eldridge, the walk’s coordinator.
“We have a few different events planned throughout the week which we hope will provide opportunities for students and other members of the community to get involved and learn about different issues facing people in San Luis Obispo,” Eldridge said.
Eldridge, a history junior, is the co-director for Beyond Shelter, which helps connect people with different homeless service providers throughout town. Eldridge became part of Beyond Shelter – a Student Community Services program in the University Union – because she wanted to spend time with people who are homeless.
“I feel like a lot of times, people can be intimidated by homeless people because of negative stereotypes, but if students are given the chance to make real relationships, they will find a lot of the stereotypes are untrue,” Eldridge said.
“Basically we are fundraising to send money to the local shelters. Earlier this year people feared the shelters would have to be shut down due to a lack of funding. Luckily, the support came through, but financial problems and not having enough money is a constant struggle,” Eldridge said, adding that fund-raising packets are available in Room 217 in the UU for people who want to form teams.
Zahlia Cronce-King is the other director for Beyond Shelter. Cronce-King, an animal science sophomore, hopes that a lot of people will come out and participate during the week and that everyone will learn something new.
“I want to educate others about homelessness in the community as well as educate myself more,” Cronce-King said.
Cronce-King joined Beyond Shelter because she wanted to get more involved in volunteer work and to help educate others about homelessness.
“I think it is a part of our society that gets overlooked a lot,” Cronce-King said.
Also scheduled during the week is Slam Poetry at Backstage Pizza at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, followed by a sleep-out at 8:30 p.m. in the University Union Plaza, where students get to experience real life as a homeless person. A booth will be at Farmers’ Market on April 27 with more information.
The week already included a Greek and WOW Day of Service on Sunday.
“Mostly we would just love for students, if they are interested in getting more involved with the homeless shelters in town, to come to any of the events,” Eldridge said.