Co-Lin students Sleep Out to learn about homelessnessPublished 12:05am Sunday, November 17, 2013
NATCHEZ — New York, Chicago, Los Angeles. Those are the cities that first come to the mind of Copiah-Lincoln Community College freshman Nia Davis when she hears the word homelessness.
But Davis knows that people in small cities like Natchez also face the harsh reality of having nowhere to lay their heard at night.
“Not many people think small towns have this problem,” she said.
Davis was one of 45 students, Co-Lin staff members and local residents that came to Co-Lin’s Natchez campus for the school’s first Sleep Out to raise awareness about homelessness in the area.
Some of the Sleep Out attendees slept outside on the quad at Co-Lin in a makeshift homeless camp.
Davis, her mother, Co-Lin’s TriO Director Monica Morrison, and some of her siblings slept in a shelter crafted from big cardboard boxes, tarp and duct tape.
“This is actually our first time sleeping outside,” Morrison said.
But it was for a good cause, Morrison said, and one of which she made sure her children realized the full degree of seriousness.
“I really like my children to know the importance of community and the importance of knowing that not everyone is as fortunate as they are,” she said. “And I think this helps them to know there is a certain degree of appreciation they should show and a certain degree of moral conviction they should feel to help others.”
Co-Lin Natchez sophomore Mario Williams learned a great deal from Sleep Out’s guest speakers, who included representatives from Veterans Affairs in Jackson, Catholic Charities and even a woman who shared the story of her homeless son.
“I saw that being homeless not only affects the people who are homeless, it affects the people who love them, too,” Williams said.
Davis said it was enlightening to put herself in someone else’s shoes to experience what homeless individuals deal with every day.
“I’m just out here for one night,” Davis said. “Some people face this for months or years.”
Nancy McFarland, Co-Lin’s director of public information, said Co-Lin’s Sleep Out was organized to help spread the word about a January homeless survey will take place in the Miss-Lou to collect data regarding the homeless population.
Sleep Out was inspired by Kenny Rushing of the WIN Job Center and Miss Lou Veterans’ Village, McFarland said. SkillsUSA also built and raffled off a fire pit that raised more than $800 for the Veterans’ Village, which provides assistance to local veterans.
Organizer and Co-Lin Assistant Dean of Career Tech and Workforce Education Erin Delaney said Adams County does not have a “homeless census,” nor does it have a complete list of resources that can be provided to homeless individuals seeking help.
Delaney said a resource guide would ensure knowledge about help for homeless individuals would be readily available for police officers, social workers and community organizations that encounter the homeless.