Homelessness Archive

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Join us for Project Homeless Connect!

On any given night in the Omaha Council Bluffs area, it is estimated there are approximately 1500 homeless in shelters and on the streets.

Project Homeless Connect Omaha 2014 will be on March 28th, 2014 at the Creighton University Kiewit Fitness Center.
Project Homeless Connect is a one-day event that serves as a “one-stop shop”, connecting homeless individuals to needed services, including: housing, healthcare, legal resources, Social Security, food-stamp benefits, and employment.
Government agencies, non-profit agencies, local businesses, volunteer groups, medical providers, legal experts and many other service providers come together in Creighton University’s Kiewit Fitness Center to offer on-site immediate assistance to individuals, families, seniors, veterans and youth who find themselves homeless. Project Homeless Connect Omaha has assisted homeless individuals improve their lives and exit life on the streets.
Project Homeless Connect Omaha is also about engaged our city’s residents volunteering their talent and time for the area’s homeless by connecting volunteers to homeless individuals as a Navigator.

Registration is now open! Click here to register for the event.

For more information click here!

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Project Homeless Connect Omaha

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Social Analysis: Students Take a Close Look at Homelessness

On Monday, students who attend weekly service at the Siena/Francis House were invited to come together for a social analysis to discuss issues surrounding poverty and homelessness. Every week at the Siena/Francis House, Creighton students eat dinner with the residents and then listen to the story of someone in the Addiction Recovery Program.

It is an impacting service site, a place where I have discovered the importance of community and of feeling listened to. After doing service that deals with a certain issue, it’s important to come together and discuss that issue in order to reflect on the service and truly bring about social change.

At this social analysis, we brainstormed religious, economic, social, political, healthcare-related, and educational questions that surround the issue of homelessness. Some things that came up were mental healthcare, minimum vs. livable wage, access to a quality education, and how possible it is to climb the social-economic ladder. We then drew connections between all of the different issues in order to see how many different factors there are that affect homelessness, and how they are related. For example, with mental health problems, it is difficult or even nearly impossible to find a job, affecting the ability to make a living wage. Or, with no access to a quality education, finding a job and making professional connections is very difficult.

It can be daunting to look up at a whiteboard full of questions and issues that affect homelessness in the United States. Social analysis shows how complicated the problem is, and how many different areas there are within it that need work. It is important to use service as the first step, and to then use what we learn in service to advocate and work to change social structures that cause problems, in order to promote social justice and a better world.

Leah Schaffer
Class of 2015

 

The CCSJ blogs are meant to be a place for Creighton students, faculty, staff, alumni/ae, and friends to reflect on their experiences with programs sponsored by the office or related to its mission. The views expressed in these reflections, and all other blogs found on or linked to from this website, are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of Creighton University, the Creighton Center for Service and Justice (CCSJ), or any of the University’s affiliates. The University and the CCSJ are not responsible for the actions, content, accuracy, or opinions expressed in these blogs.

 

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Siena/Francis House Weekly Service on Thursdays

Siena/Francis House
Monday 4:40-6:15 pm
Start Date: Monday January 28

Share a meal and conversation with Siena/Francis House guests who are homeless or in addiction recovery. Learn about the real-life challenges faced by our neighbors. Meet the van at Deglman Circle.

For more information or to reserve your spot, contact:
Haley Warren:
HaleyWarren@creighton.edu
Ryan Freeman:
RyanFreeman@creighton.edu


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What I Hope to Gain and to Give at Siena/Francis House

I have only been to Siena/Francis House once, about a couple of weeks ago with some fellow volunteers with the Creighton Center for Service and Justice. I remember walking in with my peers, anticipating being directly addressed. What should I say? What is there to talk about? The weather, the news, sports?

There were two older African-American men sitting by the door, holding onto their canes, welcoming us all with wide grins as we walked in. I tried my best to smile, instead of grimacing. I didn’t want to show that I was uncomfortable, that I didn’t know how to act or what to say. Should I remain quiet and only answer if I’m spoken to, or should I engage the people around me in conversation? 

Our dinner that day consisted of a hot dog, some steamed vegetables, chunks of potatoes, and a small desert. A guy from Creighton sitting across the table offered to pour coffee or water into everyone’s mugs. I felt a tinge of envy mixed in with guilt, that he had already taken a step forward to serve, and that I just sat back in silence.

I had already eaten dinner that day, although it was an early one. It was only five o’clock in the afternoon and this was my fourth meal of the day. Imagine that. I felt really full as soon as I had finished eating, but I thought that it would have been rude for me to refuse the meal. I didn’t know if it was a good idea for me to give away my food. Later on, one of my peers said that an argument ensued after he offered his hot dog up to anyone who wanted it. I tried to swallow my shock.

The image took me back to another world, one in which characters of Dickens and Hugo struggle against poverty to survive. Were people really willing to fight for an extra hot dog, in this day and age, a five minute drive away from Creighton?

During our dinner, I tried to talk to everyone at the table. The man next to me answered my questions quickly and clearly, but said no more than a couple of words. As soon as he was done eating, he said goodbye and left. The couple on the other side of me stayed for a few minutes after they finished eating. The guy was very talkative and friendly. The young woman was quiet and when I asked her if there was something wrong, she shook her head and said that she was just feeling sick. Her partner said, “Oh no. We don’t want to talk about that.” I hoped that she wasn’t pregnant, that she wouldn’t have to worry about another life along with her own and the extra expense that it would bring.

After dinner, we listened to a woman tell us her life story. She needed help, because she was an alcoholic. Her biggest problem, she said, was denying it for many years until finally, she lost the job that she had had for about twenty years. Without a college degree, she would have a lot of trouble getting another one. Siena/Francis provided her with the opportunity to become sober and to gain control of her life again. While she was speaking, I kept on wondering: Why is my life so different than hers and the lives of these people? Where did I go “right” and they “wrong”? Was there a fork in the road and I just so happened to pick the lucky direction, or was it something more? Should I be more thankful for my strict parents and my private education? Did anyone here have similar safety nets? Did they have any at all? 

On my way out of Siena/Francis House, I saw a very young couple playing with their two children. They couldn’t have been older than twenty-five years old each. The mom had dyed pink hair, but the dad and the kids all had strawberry blond locks. He was holding up the infant in the air, making funny faces, and kissing the boy on his cheeks. The mom was zipping up her toddler’s jacket. They were heading out, leaving. I started tearing up and I quickly looked down toward my shoes. I didn’t want anyone to think I pitied them, but I just wanted the family to stay. Just to stay at the shelter with their kids and to keep on playing with them and kissing them.

What I hoped to gain on my Fall Break Service Trip to Siena/Francis House is exactly the kind of moments that I just wrote about. I hope to gain an understanding of the people that homelessness and poverty affects. I know that I will not be able to reach the complex root causes of these ever-persistent issues, but I hope to recognize the problem from the perspective of an individual without a home and enough food for themselves or their family members.

I hope to feel hunger and the cold air. More importantly, I hope that I recognize how privileged I am and the reasons for my privilege, so that I will not only wallow in self-hatred or shame, but seek to educate myself even more about this issue. Finally, I hope to advocate for those who do not have a voice, either because they no longer have the strength to speak, or because they have been silenced.

Finally, I hope to serve and to give love to every person that I come across at Siena/Francis House, so that I can make their difficult days seem at least a little bit brighter. I hope to look into their eyes and hold their hands. I hope to provide them with some warm words, if not more.

If all else fails, I hope to at least to engage in the simplest of conversations, so that they know that I do want to hear whatever it is that they may want to say. I hope to remember their stories and retell them. Most of all, I hope to give everyone that I encounter the most basic message there is: You are a person like me. You have a story, and I want to know it, because I am your neighbor and your friend.

 

Jelena Pjević

Class of 2014

 

The CCSJ blogs are meant to be a place for Creighton students, faculty, staff, alumni/ae, and friends to reflect on their experiences with programs sponsored by the office or related to its mission. The views expressed in these reflections, and all other blogs found on or linked to from this website, are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of Creighton University, the Creighton Center for Service and Justice (CCSJ), or any of the University’s affiliates. The University and the CCSJ are not responsible for the actions, content, accuracy, or opinions expressed in these blogs.

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Finding Home in a Homeless Shelter

Fall break of my sophomore year I went on my first service trip. In the house where we stayed hung a small tapestry that read the following quote by B. Cooke:

“We need to find people who mean something to us, people to whom we turn knowing that being with them is coming home.”

At the time, I thought I appreciated these words. However, they have never resonated within me as deeply as they did on this fall break.

Senior year, my fifth (and final) service trip was spent in Albuquerque, New Mexico at St. Martin’s Hospitality Center where we served people experiencing homelessness. The shelter offers many services, including breakfast, a mailroom, showers, a clothing closet, and a long-term storage room.

From Left to Right: Laura Shircliff (Sr.), St. Martin's Client, Shelby Snedeker (Sr.)

I spent a lot of time in the long-term storage room, essentially a large closet stocked with cardboard banana crates. Clients of the shelter can sign up to use one of these boxes and keep any spare clothing or items in their box, rather than carrying everything they own onto the streets each night.

As I worked in this room a striking thought occurred to me, The contents of this box are the only things that belong to this person. However, as the week went on I realized this wasn’t true. The people of St. Martin’s have created a loyal and genuine community in the midst of their suffering. They find joy in this community, not through material things, and in that sense they belong to one another.

One of the client, a man I deeply respect, told me, “There is a lot that I have to be angry and upset about, but I never let it show.”

“Where do you find the strength to stay so positive?” I asked him.

“It’s these people. They’ve been through so much and they don’t deserve any more misery. I care about them and I want them to be happy, so I always try to put on a smiling face for them.”

And he does. He knows most clients by name and greets them with an effervescent charm as they come into the shelter.

The bond that he described is something I not only became aware of as the week went on, but something I became a part of. My fellow group members and I were carefully woven into the fabric of these people’s lives with every moment we shared with them. They graciously included us and made us feel like we belonged with them too. At the end of the week, I was near tears as we pulled away from the shelter, many clients and staff members waving goodbye from the doorway.

I will never forget how after only five days of meeting us, they made this place our home.

Shelby Snedeker
2013 Graduate
Major: English, Creative Writing
Host Site: St. Martin’s Hospitality Center, Albuquerque NM


The CCSJ blogs are meant to be a place for Creighton students, faculty, staff, alumni/ae, and friends to reflect on their experiences with programs sponsored by the office or related to its mission. The views expressed in these reflections, and all other blogs found on or linked to from this website, are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of Creighton University, the Creighton Center for Service and Justice (CCSJ), or any of the University’s affiliates. The University and the CCSJ are not responsible for the actions, content, accuracy, or opinions expressed in these blogs.

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