147 students sleep out to focus attention on plight of homeless
On Friday, March 23, the girls of Bay View teamed up with boys from Hendricken, as well as other students from LaSalle Academy, St. Raphael Academy and The Prout School to hold their annual Homeless Sleep Out to raise awareness about homelessness in Rhode Island. A total of 147 students were in attendance, including 27 girls from Bay View. Of these 27, four of them were from Warwick: Danielle Hattoy, Taylor Coffey, Shannon Coffey and Sarah Kennedy.
Taylor Coffey, a sophomore at Bay View, spoke on the importance of spreading awareness.
“The experience was fun; it gave me a whole new perspective on what it means to be homeless. It can happen to anyone; it’s not just drugs that lead to homelessness, and people need to know that,” she said.
The Sleep Out was held once again at the Cathedral of Ss. Peter and Paul, and the students gathered at 7 p.m. that Friday evening. The students did more than just sleep, however; when they first arrived, they listened to a presentation by the RI Coalition for the Homeless. The presentation was conducted by three actual homeless speakers and, according to Sister Elizabeth Hathaway, the campus minister of Bay View, it gave “a realistic viewpoint to the realities of homelessness.”
In addition to the presentation, a video was also shown. The video was about two women who were confronted with the problem of losing their job and how they were going to cope with the new problems that came when they found themselves with no place to live.
A Mass was conducted by the five schools and then the groups assembled care packages for Emmanuel House, a shelter and day program of the Diocese of Providence. Everyone has told to bring socks for all ages, from adults to children; however, in addition to socks, each school was in charge of a toiletry item. Hendricken brought razors and shaving cream, St. Raphael brought toothbrushes and toothpastes and Bay View brought hand soaps. In total, 150 care packages were made by the students.
Finally, before the students actually got to sleep, they wrote letters to local legislators on the behalf of affordable housing bills to help aid the homeless. Since the five schools draw students from all over the state, the campus minister of St. Raphael, Nancy Benoit, divided up the students by districts so that letters could be sent all over the state.
The students then retired to the courtyard of the cathedral where they slept out under the stars – literally. There were no boxes, just the clothes on their backs and blankets or sleeping bags if they had brought them from home. Sister Elizabeth Hathaway said, “I encouraged the students to participate, as we are all called to recognize the injustices of the world. We are called to right the wrongs and live in solidarity with each other. No one should have to live in homelessness.”