Every year, as part of my job I go to different events and represent our TRiO organization (TRiO is a Federally funded program that helps low-income 1st generation college access higher education to break out of poverty). On Monday, there was an event called Project Homeless Connect. This time it was in Minneapolis Convention center and it was a huge event funded by many companies and corporations. There were a lot of resources for the homeless and people who live in poverty. There were a lot of volunteers from corporations, from government projects and programs, health care facilities, etc.
The event was very well organized and I was amazed that they got so many volunteers. They managed to attach a volunteer to each visitor. Those volunteers walked together, some helped push the strollers with kids behind the individual while the individual would talk to us at the tables and get information and resources they needed.
All visitors and volunteers were fed lunch and they made sure that everyone had water bottles to drink throughout the day. I was working in the education and employment room; the other rooms provided information and resources about housing, welfare benefits, health care. They had health and wellness room where they could meet with doctors, dentists, mental health professionals on the spot. All of the professionals were volunteers for the day or for a few hours rotating with their co-workers.
There were a lot of mentally ill homeless people. It was depressing to see so many of them in the same area. I often work with some of these people in my office and when I work with them nothing bothers me but this was overwhelming.
The most upsetting for me was observing the kids with their ill parents. Generally, it was upsetting to see that there are people that could not be helped in improving their life or at least I couldn’t see their situations improve. I guess I was more upset that I felt powerless listening to their stories when they stopped by our table. Most of them are not good college material because of their cognition and developmental impairments. Thinking of Maslow’s hierarchy model, these people don’t have their basic needs met, no safe shelter and food on regular basis.
I thought that it was great that people who work in corporations had a chance to be involved in this event and see the poverty first hand. Hopefully, appreciating their lives more and be more generous when it comes to charity requests and taxes.