“Anyone can be homeless,” is a statement made annually at the beginning of the semester by students in my FTS, The Politics of Homelessness. “Really?” I reply, “Even Taylor Swift?” Even before 1989 sold more than one million copies in less than one week, the odds of Taylor Swift ever becoming homeless were infinitesimal if not impossible.
But what if she were? Would people care about homelessness if Taylor Swift were homeless?
This was the message of a sign created for the Gustavus Sleepout two years ago, and among more than fifty it was arguably the one most discussed and posted to social media.
Yet why it was more provocative than a nearby sign informing readers that “63% of Homeless Mothers Have Experienced Severe Physical Assault By An Intimate Male Partner”?
During this year’s Gustavus Sleepout, students in The Politics of Homelessness FTS will support Partners for Affordable Housing, owners and operators of the Welcome Inn and Theresa House in Mankato, by collecting necessities for their operation.
There are 11 families staying in these two homes at any one time, and demand is constant for after-school treats for the children staying with them; paper products such as toilet paper, napkins and paper towels; personal hygiene products like shampoo, soap, deodorant, toothbrushes and toothpaste; and cleaning supplies. St. Peter does not have any shelters for people experiencing a temporary or long-term housing crisis.
The informative signs will still be hung from campus trees and lightpoles during the Gustavus Sleepout (November 16-19), and through them readers will learn who is at greatest risk of experiencing a housing crisis.
But this year, FTS Sleepout participants will be carrying a cardboard box, donated by the BookMark, to collect any of the above items. Look for them—they will be visible. Additionally, the BookMark has created hygiene kits for purchase at the registers for a modest charge; purchased kits will also be brought to the two shelters. Thank you in advance for contributing what you can. I Wish You Would!
-Dr. Ritchard Leitch