IWU Students Aim to Increase Homelessness Awareness
Participants in the Summer Enrichment Program pose for a group photo (below) and talk
with Ann Harding (above, left), assistant director and internship coordinator at Illinois
Wesleyan's Hart Career Center. (Photos by Mark Von Brock)
July 31, 2006
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. - Nearly 1,800 individuals in the Bloomington/Normal community are
homeless, according to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development
(HUD) - a statistic that has alarmed Illinois Wesleyan University ALANA (African American,
Asian American, Latino American, and Native American) students participating in IWU's
2006 Summer Enrichment Program (SEP).
The program, themed "Developing Talent, Strengthening Character," began on May 30
and will continue until Aug. 4.
(Listen to students being interviewed on local NPR affiliate, WGLT.)
In their search for answers, the 13 students, who were selected by a committee of
IWU officials following a competitive interview process, devoted the better part of
the summer to extensive research on poverty in the community. During their search,
the students came across more unsettling statistics. Of the nearly 1,800 impoverished
individuals in Bloomington/Normal, 10 percent suffer from severe mental illnesses,
35 percent have alcohol and other drug addictions, 13 percent are victims of domestic
violence and one percent have HIV/AIDS.
The SEP participants recently shared their research findings in a presentation to
Illinois Wesleyan administrative staff, as well as business and community leaders
from Bloomington/Normal. During the presentation, the students stressed the importance
of strong relationships between local businesses and homeless shelters, and also emphasized
education about poverty and its causes.
"[Homelessness] can happen to anybody, including people who might have suddenly lost
their jobs," says Stosh Eichenauer, a sophomore chemistry major from Decatur and a
participant in the program. "It's a problem that needs to be addressed in order to
strengthen our community."
The students also discussed their volunteer experiences at shelters in the community.
Several of the students, for example, volunteered at Home Sweet Home Ministries, a
shelter for impoverished individuals in Bloomington, this summer. "It was a wonderful
opportunity to see how much good can come from volunteering your time," says Sandy
Tun, a sophomore biology major from Spring Valley, Ill. "Even a few people can have
a major impact."
The Summer Enrichment Program is sponsored by the IWU Office of Multicultural Student
Affairs (OMSA). Under the direction of Nicole Brown-Davis, Class of 1999 and current
director of OMSA, the 10-week program has evolved into a multi-faceted experience
that includes an internship tailored to academic interests, an extensive group service
project, and character development. Upon successful completion of SEP, each student
is awarded a scholarship.
Contact: Marcus Mitchell, (309) 556-3181