Awareness, not homelessness, goal of recent ‘Sleepout’

by Letter to the Editor

Thanks to Peter for writing the initial article last week on Reggie’s Sleepout and thanks to Nicole for her editorial about her experience at Drake last weekend. As “boxmates,” we’d like to add just another piece of the story. It’s true that what we experienced did not compare to actual homelessness. We had a lot of fun, plenty of food to eat, opportunities for warmth and indoor plumbing, and it’s true, colored duct tape. However, it may not be known that having a homeless experience is not really one of the goals of Reggie’s Sleepout. Participants were asked to complete an online evaluation of the event. The director of Iowa Homeless Youth Centers in Des Moines included this with the link for the survey:

“We really need your input to assure that Reggie’s Sleepout 2008 will do the very best job of:

1. Promoting understanding and awareness of issues around youth homelessness;

2. Providing information about community resources, volunteer opportunities, and advocacy opportunities; and

3. Energizing participants to get personally involved, whether through fund raising or direct involvement with advocacy or homeless services.”

It should be noted that these goals do not include experiencing true homelessness, but rather to raise awareness and understanding. In this respect, Reggie’s Sleepout was a tremendous success. Of course it would be possible to participate in the event and personally experience what it would be like to be homeless. One could avoid all the luxuries we had and get a better taste of what the children we were raising money for experience on a daily basis. Maybe some year we’ll try it.

– Sophomore Courtney Lezanic, senior Tracy Robson and Courtney Swanson