We are educating the students about the issues surrounding homelessness, what leads to/ causes the issue, and what kind of impact these issues have on various groups of people. The students are passionate about the issues of homelessness as it is something they see in their community (in NYC). With the understanding of the systemic issues and the cycle of poverty that exists for many, they will be able to use their passion to do important community work and create change in their community and beyond.
We are learning about many groups impacted by homelessness, and extended our study to homeless adults, children, teenagers (specifically, LGBTQ youth), and senior citizens. The students are learning that homelessness has many faces, and that there are many “hidden homeless” in our community. In our study, we made the connection between homeless pets in our community as well. We also discussed the concept of “food justice,” and how many people who are poor or are relying on food from shelters and community centers often do not have access to healthy foods, and vegetarianism and/or veganism is often not a possible choice for those in poverty. Homelessness does not exist in a vacuum, and our students are exploring, researching, and understanding the complicated web of issues that are involved in homelessness. They are also realizing that there are so many ways to help with this issue, and thinking about specific ways to make a difference that they find meaningful.
Our service project is multi-faceted. We plan to create hygiene kits for those in need using eco-friendly, healthy products as well as products that were not tested on animals. We will also plant healthy vegetables like tomatoes and lettuce in our school’s hydroponic garden and make meals to donate to a local homeless shelter. Additionally, we plan to volunteer at a shelter for senior citizens and set up living quarters for them by painting and making the space feel more inviting.