SU Gives a Voice to the Homeless, Shares Experience with Students

Published: 04/26/2011

Last Thursday, April 21, the Sociology/Anthropology Club hosted Shippensburg University’s second Annual Night Without A Home event.

Students had the opportunity to feel what it was like to be homeless by volunteering to sleep the entire night on the Quad in front of Ezra Lehman Library.

There were boxes at the event for students to donate toiletry items and clothing and food to the Chambersburg Cold Weather Drop-In Shelter.

There were three speakers at the event. The first, Craig Newcomer, owner of the Chambersburg Cold Weather Drop-In Shelter, discussed his ownership responsibilities and what it was like to work with the homeless men and women in the greater tri-state area of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

He said, “It’s seven days a week for me. It’s all based on mercy and grace and understanding that people are going to fall and you have to be there to pick them back up, and that’s what we do.”

The other speakers were Wil Bunke, 37, a former homeless man, and Jason Mullen, 21, a current resident of the Chambersburg Cold Weather Drop-In Shelter. These two men gave detailed accounts of their experiences while they were homeless.

Wil Bunke said of his experience, “I would see a homeless man outside McDonald’s holding a sign that said ‘will work for food,’ and I just didn’t get it. It was being judgmental and now I realize you never know what people are going through. It was judgmental and that’s not a part of me anymore.”

There were approximately 60 students in attendance for the speakers and about 12-15 students slept the entire night on the Quad. One of these students was Gina Sciabarassi, a senior and president of the Sociology/Anthropology Club and main organizer of the event.

“Hopefully they’ll understand the different perceptions in our society about homelessness and realize that they’re mostly false. I really want people to understand that homelessness is a social issue in society and some people don’t even realize that there’s a homeless community in Shippensburg or Chambersburg,” Sciabarassi said when asked what she wanted participants to take away from the event.

The Cold Weather Drop-In Shelter is a safe place for homeless during the cold winter months. If you would like to volunteer your services, or know someone who is homeless, it is located at 195 Louden St. in Chambersburg, Pa. For more information, visit their website at or call (717) 262-2143.

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