Washburn’s annual effort to raise awareness and generate support and action for those who are hungry or homeless continues to grow. For the second year, Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week at Washburn will be recognized with an entire week of activities.
“A lot of people are not aware of the issues happening in our community. This is a way to take off their blinders,” said Angelique Flinn, lead organizer for the week. Flinn, from Topeka, is a senior majoring in biology and human services.
Flinn and co-organizers Hailey Winterburg, a junior in nursing from Louisburg, Kan., and Wesley Gately, a freshman studying political science from Overland Park, Kan., are Bonner Leaders who initially got involved through in the effort through Washburn's Center for Community and Civic Engagement. They are hopeful the variety of events they’ve planned will make it easy for the entire campus and interested Topekans to get involved.
Events include a multimedia art exhibit, featuring spoken word in addition to static art pieces, which depicts the effects of poverty on every Kansan. The Poverty A to Z exhibit was made possible with support from the Mulvane Art Museum. Several educational forums are planned, including a session on how to communicate with legislators about issues that matter to you, a panel presenting the perspectives of current and former homeless Topekans and an Oxfam Hunger Banquet, where what you eat is determined by luck of the draw. Students also will prepare and serve a Thanksgiving-style meal for Topekans in need on Friday. Donations of food for that meal can be dropped off in the Learning in the Community Office, Benton 405.
National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, started by the National Coalition for the Homeless, is being recognized throughout the United States Nov. 16-24.
Winterburg said participating in just one event during the week could make a big difference in the future for both students and community members.
“We’re all going to have to work with people who have experienced hunger, and even homelessness. Go to one event and you can apply it later on, even 10 or 20 years down the road,” she said. “I know how important this is. Everyone needs to know.”
Gately, who organized a showing of the Robert Reich documentary “Inequality for All” said the goal is to fill all 250 seats in the lecture hall on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. Presented in a style similar to Al Gore’s global warming documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” the film is based on Reich’s book, “Aftershock,” about the country’s growing income disparity.
“There’s a lot of misinformation out there,” Gately said. “People don’t realize how many people really suffer in their own towns.”
Events at a glance:
Poverty A to Z art exhibit, Andrew J. and Georgia Neese Gray Theatre Lobby from 8 a.m. Monday, Nov. 18, through 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22. This multimedia exhibit is made possible by support from the Mulvane Art Museum.
Let Your Voice Be Heard, 5-6:30 p.m., Monday, Nov. 18, Lincoln Room, upper level of the Memorial Union. Learn how to get your message to elected officials at this free training, provided by Shelby Feldman, Global Nutrition Organizer for RESULTS, a Washington, D.C.-based organization working to eradicate poverty in the United States and beyond.
Faces of Homelessness panel, 6-8 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 19, Shawnee Room, upper level of the Memorial Union. Hear from current and former homeless residents of Topeka.
“Inequality for All” screening, 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 20, Henderson Learning Resources Center Room 100. The screening is presented in partnership with the Center for Peace and Justice. This documentary about income inequality in the United States features economic expert Robert Reich. Learn more about the film: http://inequalityforall.com/
Oxfam Hunger Banquet, 6 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 21, Washburn Room of the Memorial Union. Luck of the draw determines the type of meal you will eat – communal rice and beans on the floor or a multi-course meal -- at this educational fundraiser for Oxfam.
Homeless Meal Support, meal preparation, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22, at Asbury Mount Olive United Methodist Church, 1196 S.W. Buchanan St., Topeka. Meal serving 3:30-5 p.m. Friday at 620 S.E. Madison Ave., Topeka.
Michaela Saunders, university relations, 785.670.2154