Helping the homeless: Greensboro College, Middle College, IRC and Furniture Banks
A few nights ago, I attended a Hunger Banquet at Greensboro College. I was welcomed by a young man who invited me to choose my "station" ticket from a box, which would determine where and what I would be fed.
I reached in and pulled out a "Middle-Income" ticket, which entitled me to a chair, a plate of rice, salad, a fork, and all the clean water I could drink. The "Lower-Income" group sat on the floor in a roped-off area, ate rice with their fingers, and were limited to one cup of water. The "Upper-Income" group sat at fully dressed tables and received a hot 3-course meal, served by student waiters.
The Upper-Income group, we learned, represents 15% of the world's population - people with a per capita income of $12,000 or more per year. The Middle-Income group earns between $987 and $11,999 a year and represents 35% of the world's population. The Lower-Income group represents 50% of the world's population.
The event was sponsored by Village 401, an initiative of Greensboro College to connect the College with its neighbors through meaningful and purposeful outreach programs within the ZIP code 27401.
My husband and I were there because my daughter, a student in the early college program at Greensboro College, and some of her classmates were using the event as an opportunity to share some of the volunteer work they've been doing this semester at Greensboro's Interactive
Resource Center (IRC), a local organization that helps people who are homeless, recently homeless or facing homelessness reconnect with their own lives and with the community at large.
The primary goal of last week's event, held during Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week, was to do just that - raise awareness about the hungry and homeless in our community, and around the world. The students did an outstanding job at presenting their work, the people and personalities they work with, some of their success stories, and myths and facts about homelessness.
In addition to the basics - food, clothing, a shower, medical care, the IRC offers employment and housing assistance. They even loan suits and professional clothing for, and provide transportation to, job interviews - and based on what my daughter has told me about some of the people she's met there, I'm sure many of these would be great help during High Point Market weeks. Here's the IRC's website and contact info: http://gsodaycenter.org/contact/
It also brought to my mind the good work of The Furniture Bank, a furniture "repurposing" effort with chapters around the country that not only helps those in need, but also keeps landfills free of useable furnishings. My friend Mary Frye, president of HFIA, sits on the advisory board of the Dallas Furniture Bank and first told me about the banks several years ago. "A side benefit that I've always thought made the furni ture bank concept worthy of our industry's support is that consumers sometimes need permission to buy new furnishings because what they have is still perfectly useable, less fashionable than they would like maybe, but still serviceable," she told me. "Furniture banks provide just the kind of incentive some of us can use so that we decide to purchase new goods, knowing that our old stuff is going to a good cause."
A list of furniture banks by state is HERE.
Many thanks to this group of students at Greensboro College, Greensboro Middle College, Drs. Brown and Gunther-LaVergne, and "Ms. Teresa" for their volunteer work and efforts to raise awareness of hunger and the homeless. If I've left out anyone or anything, please add in the comments section below.