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Six USF Students Work to End Homelessness

The students presented their findings on homelessness at the classes’ final meeting on Tuesday, July 19.

Six presentations produced a diverse range of concerns, offering the audience six unique views into the complex issues at hand. Several common themes emerged, however, as each presenter touched on the changing face of homelessness, the difficulties posed by the recent economic downturn, and personal experiences.

Professor Bonnie Greenball Silvestri’s course, “Ending Homelessness: How can we work toward social change?” saw University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee students provide 18 or more volunteer hours to an agency offering homelessness services. Among the agencies involved were the Suncoast Partnership to End Homelessness, Glasser Schoenbaum, Early Learning Coalition and Gulfcoast Legal Services.

The course marked a somewhat new venture into social activism for USF, blending academic work with hands-on learning. The course took place amidst a in Sarasota, leading Professor Silvestri to remark that it was a “happy day after a big summer.”

Hinning Bolanos began the day by speaking of the increase of families & children affected by homelessness. He spoke of his own experience living with relatives, and the deeply personal feelings that children encounter.

Diane Florez’s presentation explored the issues posed by the housing crisis, discussing how delinquencies and foreclosures can be the start of a slippery slope toward homelessness. She addressed the government programs aimed at curtailing the crises and described them as difficult to navigate and insufficient.

Diana Hartig blended a mix of biblical quotes, the wisdom of Mother Teresa, reflections on the military and facts on the mole people who live under Las Vegas.

Professor Silvestri proudly introduced the next presenter, Shawna Machado, as the incoming president of the Social Justice Initiative. Machado told the audience she had been homeless herself for a year, and described herself as living proof that a strong mentoring is a successful strategy for addressing homelessness.

Miranda Richardson put forth a relatively substantial analysis of recent budget cuts in services. She placed specific emphasis on cuts to education, the Department of Children & Families, health care, civil legal assistance and the Boys & Girls Club. She concluded, “(Florida Gov.) Rick Scott did exactly what you’d do if you wanted to end the state’s future.”

Patrick Walker described working with the Suncoast Partnership to End Homelessness as the “best opportunity that ever happened to me.” He shared his story of leaving the military and finding himself not knowing how to find a job. Veterans — who comprise 11 percent of the homeless population — have services, he added, but they often don’t know how to use them.

arlene J Pearlman August 02, 2011 at 11:49 AM
Shawna is one terrific young woman who practices what she preaches. She should be a role model for many, many - - - young and old.
Jeff Bond August 02, 2011 at 01:23 PM
God bless those people
Lois A Levin August 02, 2011 at 02:00 PM
Kudos to everyone involved with this course and to the Suncoast Partnership's Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness in Sarasota County. Given what's happening at the level of state government in Florida, this is encouraging news indeed.
Shawna August 02, 2011 at 04:45 PM
Thank you Arlene. I am as "terrific" as those who inspire and support me...my friends and community. I wouldn't be a success without them. Advocacy works!
sean kummerow August 02, 2011 at 10:07 PM
grass roots movements sans typical gov stumbling blocks are the only way to address this issue on a case by case human level.Glad to see our former mayor Richard Martin in the mix.He has been a tireless advocate for the homeless and has put his neck on the line speaking out against injustice.I applaud all who see this as a community challenge to be addressed with constructive solutions.Looks like a change is goin to come.The axiom that the comfort of the rich depends on the masses subjugated to poverty must play a part in a complete overhaul of the historical economic status qou.People are awakening to the reality of feudalism in the modern state.
kathleen caterino August 02, 2011 at 10:43 PM
Very inspiring article!!! BRAVO! Teaching U 2 Fish is a SOLUTION! Based in Tampa! The poverty levels around the world are scary, depressing and heartbreaking. The immense hardship and stress that surrounds our world effects everyone and it is all of us that need to unite together to make economic changes around the world. Together we can make a difference. You can bring help and hope to families all over the world. People that are living in this reality of devastation and poverty are REALLY hurting, they are looking for someone like you to Pay It Forward - they need your help. To join the business and purchase the product and have a free shopping mall and toolbar is $32.00 one time, the compensation plan is very lucrative and very achievable by having goals and a vision. TU2F (Teaching U 2 Fish) is more than just a business - it's a way to HELP others who really need us. Please help us with our Mission. http://litfromwithinfl.teachingu2fish.com/ Link to presentation: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/15756924 Kathy C seedmoneymarketiing@gmail.com

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