Can you pick out the students facing homelessness in this picture?
The face of hunger and homelessness may look different than you think. Many MCTC students struggle with hunger and homelessness every day. Out of 1061 student survey respondents, 103 students said they were currently homeless. 163 students said they frequently could not afford a meal or groceries.
MCTC is sponsoring several activities in November to raise awareness and understanding about hunger and homelessness in our community, and to help our students in need. These activities are in recognition of National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, Nov. 14 – 20. The public is welcome to attend and participate in these activities, Nov. 5 – 23 at MCTC.
This year, Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week is the week before Thanksgiving to draw attention to the devastating problems of homelessness and hunger in America. Co-sponsored by the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Student Campaign Against Hunger & Homelessness, events across the country, including at MCTC, promote education, action and awareness about hunger and homelessness.
What does it mean to be homeless?
Many think of the homeless as those living in shelters or on the streets. But this excludes those living in substandard housing; those facing imminent eviction from their current housing with nowhere to go; and those living in cars. Many people experience the crisis of homelessness in a way that is invisible to the community.
At MCTC, we hope to build awareness about hunger and homelessness. We know that these issues affect our students as well as those in our surrounding communities. The following activities are just a few ways that we are addressing these issues.
Scratching the Surface: A Glimpse into Poverty and Homelessness, Nov. 18 – 24
As part of MCTC’s Fight to End Hunger and Homelessness, the College is partnering with the Downtown Congregations to End Homelessness to create a photo exhibit, “Scratching the Surface: A Glimpse into Poverty and Homelessness.”
Through intimate images taken at shelters and organizations that work to end homelessness around the Twin Cities, members of the project hope to dispel some of the myths about what it looks like to be homeless. Faculty and students in the Photography and Digital Imaging department at MCTC contributed images to this exhibit.
Please join us for an opening reception on Nov. 18, 5 – 7 p.m. in the T Building Skyway (2nd Floor), to view the photos from this project. Discuss the issues of hunger and homelessness with members of the project and the community. The exhibit will be on display at MCTC through Nov. 24. To register, contact Marni Harper at 612-659-6311 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Sodexo will provide refreshments. Bring a non-perishable food item to the exhibit to help MCTC students in need.
Photos featured in the exhibit were taken by MCTC Photography and Digital Imaging students Steven Guy, Tina Moore, Kate Maxwell Williams, Ru Yan, Viviana Vazquez and Jacob Walter. Faculty work will also be featured in the exhibit, by Jack Mader, Marilyn Indahl and Peter Koeleman.
Jack Mader, an MCTC faculty collaborator on this project says, “Going into this project I was certainly aware of homelessness but didn’t know how much I didn’t know about homelessness. Through this project I’m gaining a continued understanding of homelessness, what it is, who is affected by it and that as simple as it may sound, the main reason for homelessness is poverty. Perhaps the best way out of poverty is education. Another important aspect I have learned is that there are services, organizations and individuals doing something to help stop or end hunger, poverty and homelessness one individual at a time.”
“Working on the project has provided an array of various experiences for all parties involved,” says MCTC Photography and Digital Imaging student Jacob Walter. “Given the chance to be put into someone else’s shoes via imagery is a very powerful thing. From the very start we were very driven about the project and the opportunities that it would provide. Many of the assignments were tough to complete because we had to be very sensitive with the subjects and circumstances we were portraying in out photographs. Overall I think that we were able to put together a very compelling and ground breaking presentation of our work and I think I speak for all parties involved when I say that we are very excited to share our work with the general public.”
Marilyn Indahl, an MCTC staff member who contributed to this project says, “This project stirred many emotions in me. I realized that homelessness affected more than just single people or those with a transient lifestyle. People from all walks of life are homeless–some teenagers, adults of any age and some with college education. Many two parent and single parent families with children of all ages are working to find housing. Even a place to sleep, a couch at a friend’s home, a cot in the shelter is not a home. It is apparent that any small act of assistance, whether it be donating money, food, clothing, your time and maybe your expertise amounts to a great help in the lives of many individuals.”
Peter Koeleman, an MCTC faculty collaborator on this project said, “I became aware of how ignorant I was about the problem of homelessness and how a little bit of help can go a long way. I learned how easy it can be to end up on the street and how humbling it is for the people who are trying so hard to get themselves out of their downward spiral. I also want to praise the countless individuals who are out there trying to help them get back on their feet.”
Additional Activities, Nov. 5 – 23
- MCTC Homelessness Awareness Action, Nov. 5, 2 – 5 p.m., Hennepin Avenue
The Students Against Hunger and Homelessness and Wellness Advocates for You student groups will gather students who are currently homeless or have experienced homelessness and volunteers to stand outside on corners of Hennepin Avenue from Laurel Ave. to 16th Street in Minneapolis wearing and holding signs, such as “I’m a student and I am homeless.” They hope to bring attention to the need for stable housing. View images from this event.
- Annual Power of Giving Employee Campaign, Nov. 8 – 19
Help end homelessness and hunger for MCTC students. Through the employee campaign, MCTC raises about $50,000 each year to support scholarships. This year, along with raising money for scholarships, we will also be raising money for emergency needs for students. This is one way MCTC is taking action against hunger and homelessness. Employees can give online.
- Give to the Max Day, Nov. 16
If you donate to MCTC on Give to the Max Day on Nov. 16, your contribution will be matched by the MCTC Foundation. Give through GiveMN.org and maximize your money towards scholarships to help our students in need. Visit our GiveMN.org page.
- Food and Clothing Drive, Nov. 8-19
Bring non-perishable food, new or gently used winter clothing and personal hygiene items to MCTC to help students in need. Raise money to purchase grocery gift cards to distribute to students to purchase Thanksgiving perishable food items. Donation collection boxes will be located at registers in the Bookstore and the Cafeteria.
- Food and Clothing Distribution, Nov. 23, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., MCTC Gym
Food and clothing items collected during the drive will be distributed to students in need. Resources and referral services will be available to students by Community Action, Hennepin County, Freeport West, YouthLink, Streetworks, Healthcare for the Homeless, St. Stephen’s and Dress for Success.
For more information about any of these activities, contact Marni Harper at email@example.com or 612-659-6311. For more information about resources available to MCTC students, contact Mary Ann Prado, Director of Resource and Referral Services, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 612-659-6706.