Awareness: hunger and homelessness week unites community for success

By Daina Havens
December 8, 2006

Over $2,800 later, minus all other expenses, the 2006 Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week that began on Sunday, Oct. 5 was a triumphant success.

As co-chair of the campaign, it was a blessing to be part of something that positively effected so many lives, ranging from the campus community members who learned a few things about a desperate world issue, to the 30 local families that received full-course Thanksgiving meals, and even to the local and international organizations that will receive donations from the money raised. It truly was a week of success.

This annual tradition at Cabrini, and at most other colleges with a mission statement dedicated to service, is an extensive week with many events that weave through each day meant to raise both money and awareness. The events for this year’s campaign began with a collection at a local supermarket and a special blessing by Father Michael at Sunday evening mass, and in this order, continued with a hunger banquet in the Mansion, a beginning and breaking of a fast, a sleep out in solidarity with the homeless, a fundraiser known as “Cabrini Island” and finally a letter signing social justice advocacy event.

The “bucket brigade” outside of the Devon ACME on a chilly day reminded many shoppers and volunteers how every penny counts. All the spare change, plus a $20 donation from a Cabrini Alum, a $10 dollar donation from a ONE Campaign volunteer and a few dollars from a proud father of a Cabrini freshman, added up to just over $200.

That evening, Father Michael Bielecki said in his homily, “We can be tempted to carelessly dismiss as unimportant, if not undesirable, those who distract us from our own agendas, who demand too much from us, who make us uncomfortable, like the hungry and homeless, the unemployed and alien, or those who fail to live up to our expectations.” His words set a beautiful tone for the week’s events to come.

A personal highlight of the week was welcoming Dr. Suzanne Toton as a guest speaker for the Hunger Banquet, where she spoke about and shared a video on the ONE Campaign and Bono’s role in the fight against hunger.

The biggest impact on my emotion was watching all the faces of the guests at the banquet react to the huge pieces of chocolate cake that were being served by dining services to the fortunate few that were considered the upper and most fortunate class, while the majority of the participants sat uncomfortably on the floor eating only rice and water.

One participant, Megan Zweigle, a sophomore elementary and special education major, said “I felt like we are all students here. They were better than us and it wasn’t fair.” Zweigle was a member of the majority who symbolized the developing nations and was forced to sit on the floor and feel social injustice.

Dining services also made it possible for the participants in the fast to donate their three meals from that day, and then use that money to purchase non-perishable food to donate to the cause.

Working toward social justice should be a personal passion that becomes a community effort, and I feel that The Cabrini community really stepped up to the plate, especially with this year’s record-breaking amount of money raised from “Cabrini Island.” Students raked in hundreds of dollars in donations from other students to get off the “island,” while faculty, staff and cherished members associated with the college donated large sums to save the “stranded” volunteers.

They were really saving lives, filling empty bellies and comforting heads without pillows to rest on.

The Wolfington Center and its volunteers do amazing things, but there is still so much left to be accomplished. If you want to help, just stop in and say hi anytime.that’s how I got started.

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Daina Havens

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