Marinette youth help the homeless

By | March 2, 2011

“We will have guest speakers each hour,” said Jeanne Harper, adult advisor for the Youth and Young Vincentians and one of the event’s organizers.


Participants in last year’s ‘Freezin’ 4 Reasons’ homelessness awareness project hold a sign outside the Knights of Columbus Hall in Marinette. Area youth hope to raise $3,500 this year to assist homeless families. (Submitted photo | For The Compass)

“We have someone from a family that received assistance from the money we raised last year. Another speaker will talk about homeless veterans,” added Harper. “A recent adult homeless person, Jon, will share how he lived in his car for a year. There will be a presentation about how the use of drugs and alcohol contribute to people being homeless. A police officer will share his experiences working with the homeless. I think the personal stories of all our speakers will bring a better understanding.”

The young people will have to cope with the elements, but not like homeless simulation exercises where participants spend an entire night in the cold, the shelters at this event are equally designed to draw the attention of the general public. Youth are collecting pledges to raise money and they will seek donations during the event. Part of understanding the plight of being homeless is begging for money, said Harper.

“We need to do the begging so the poor do not need to,” she said.

Last year’s event, which had 30 to 40 participants, raised $2,200 — $1,500 in pledges and $700 from student participants begging for those in need. The student goal this year is $3,500, said Harper.

Funds will be disbursed by the United Way to assist homeless families that do not qualify for other federal, state or local resources, added Harper. The money will be designated to help with emergency housing and to stop the shutoff of heat, electricity or water.

“You never know what situation is going to arise,” said Harper. “Tri-City Area United Way recently helped a father in need. He was supposed to move into his new apartment, but the people hadn’t moved out, so he didn’t have a place to go. It would have prevented him from seeing his children over the weekend. They were able to put him up in a hotel so he could spend time with his children.”

Several groups will be represented by young people at the event including the St. Vincent de Paul Youth and Young Vincentians, St. Thomas Aquinas Academy, the Knights of Columbus Youth Group, youth from St. Mary Parish in Peshtigo, Peshtigo High School, Our Savior Lutheran Church, the Healthy Youth Coalition, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College sociology students and students from Menominee, Mich.

The youth co-chairs for this year’s event are Robbie Paul and Justin Miller, eighth grade students at St. Thomas Aquinas Academy and members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Youth and Young Vincentians, St. Joseph Conference — Holy Family Parish.

Freezin’ 4 Reasons will serve as a springboard to Project Homeless Connect, March 17, at the Salvation Army, 80 W. Russell St., Marinette. Services and resources will be available for the homeless. Hot meals will be served throughout the day, backpacks of items will be handed out and free haircuts will be provided. Representatives of several community agencies and organizations will be on hand.

Supporters are invited to drop off financial donations at the event on March 11. Non-perishable food items, personal items, paper and cleaning products and fuel cards are also needed. Checks are to be made payable to Tri-City-Area United way and note “Freezin’ 4 Reasons ONLY” in the memo. Knights of Columbus Hall is located at 1502 Main St. in Marinette.

For more information, sponsorship or to sign up a youth group, contact Jeanne Harper at (715) 923-9549 or e-mail: [email protected]

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