OBERLIN — Organizers of next week’s Kick Off to Kick Out Hunger and Homelessness events at Oberlin College say there is a lack of awareness among many Americans about the depth of the problem of poverty in America.
A record 49.1 million Americans, including about 14.1 percent of Lorain County residents, are living in poverty, according to the U.S. Census, and a record number of Americans, about 45.1 million in July, were using food stamps.
“It’s an eye-opener for me. The face of the homeless people is definitely changing,” said event co-organizer Cindi Manning, Family Promise of Lorain County president. “It’s our neighbors. It’s our children. It’s our friends.”
Manning has gotten an upclose view of homelessness since being appointed president by the nine-member Family Promise Board of Directors in January of last year. The nondenominational group, formed in 2008, has a day center on Middle Avenue in Elyria that provides counseling, computers and a plan for getting a job and home to homeless families.
Participants must have at least one child for which they are caring. At night, participants are fed and housed by a rotating group of 14 area congregations, Manning said.
This is the first year Family Promise is taking part in the events, which are run by about 320 students who are members Ohio Public Interest Research Group, an activist organization that promotes consumer rights and improving social welfare.
Manning, chemistry resources coordinator in Oberlin’s chemistry department since 1992, said she connected with the students who’ve been organizing the event since September. The event is part of National Homelessness and Hunger Awareness Week.
“We felt it would be very productive to reach out,” said Ethan Schmitt, an Oberlin freshman and Ohio PIRG spokesman. “Family Promise was a great, viable option with Cindi working at Oberlin.”
Schmitt and Manning said they hope the events will forge stronger ties between county residents and Oberlin students.
“These are family events, so we want (families) to come out and learn about the different organizations that are out there and how they help and how they can come and help as families,” Manning said. “We need the families to come together and help each other out.”
A weeklong series of events spotlighting hunger and homelessness and how to prevent them will be at Oberlin College beginning Sunday.
For more information, call the Family Promise Center at (440) 284-0494.
- Sunday, 2 to 4 p.m. at the Science Center: Kickoff of events
- Monday, 8 p.m., Wilder Room 101, Information on area homelessness and resources and a speech by a formerly homeless person.
- Wednesday, showing of the movie, “A Pursuit of Happyness,” a film based on a man’s one-year struggle with homelessness.
- Thursday, United Methodist Church, 45 S. Professor St., 5 to 7 p.m., Simply Soup, a soup dinner to give a better perspective on what it’s like to be homeless.
Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or firstname.lastname@example.org.