Marist College to Hold 3rd Annual Fundraising Effort for River Haven Youth Shelter (11/1)
Organized by the College’s School of Social and Behavioral Sciences and the Criminal Justice Honor Society, the event aims to connect an experiential learning opportunity with stark statistics about youth homelessness.
October 21, 2019—For the third consecutive year Marist College students are holding a “sleep out” on the campus green to raise awareness of youth homelessness and to raise funds for River Haven, a local shelter for homeless teenagers run by Hudson River Housing.
Organized by the College’s School of Social and Behavioral Sciences and the Criminal Justice Honor Society, the event aims to connect an experiential learning opportunity with stark statistics. Youth comprise a third of the homeless population in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Although not usually closely associated with homelessness, this population is considered to be at a greater risk for homelessness than adults, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
This overnight event will take place on Friday, November 1, on the campus green. Students will gather and spend the night outside. Andrea Garcia, a Marist alumna and case manager and Alix Ciferri, assistant manager at River Haven, will speak as will Chris Canale, a formerly homeless man who now works for Hudson River Housing. Tommy Zurhellen, Associate Professor of English, who walked across the country earlier this year to raise awareness of veteran suicide and homelessness, will also deliver remarks.
“While this simulation in no way replicates the seriousness of a real homeless situation, the goal here is to highlight this pervasive problem and create a situation where students are thinking about what it might be like to spend night after night on the street,” explained event organizer and Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice Dr. Frank Merenda.
Marist senior Jonathan Knobloch has been involved with the sleep out since it started in 2017. This year’s he is helping to organize the event. “Although the sleep out may just be for one night, the experience stays with you. Hearing personal stories from our guest speakers adds another emotional element and shows students just how much of a problem homelessness is; it has gotten to the point where many students don’t even realize we see it every day,” said Knobloch.
Although the number of homeless youth is difficult to quantify, Merenda says one point remains clear, “Most youth identify family conflicts and abuses in the home as the primary reason they find themselves in unstable circumstances,” said Merenda. “Students who hope to pursue careers in criminal justice, social work, psychology or any of the social or behavioral sciences will be challenged with the realities that often lead to youth homelessness, involvement in these types of community orientated events can help better prepare them to meet those challenges and to provide the right kind of support.”
Students who participate will make donations to River Haven, a project of the Poughkeepsie-based nonprofit, Hudson River Housing. River Haven is a safe, voluntary, temporary housing program designed to address the immediate needs of runaway, homeless and other at-risk youth.
Anyone who wishes to support this effort can donate by clicking here.