Students join effort to help the homeless
More than 150 volunteers from Metro State participated in Family Project Homeless Connect at the Pepsi Center on Oct. 9.
More than 600 families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless were assisted with services like rapid re-housing, basic medical exams, food stamps and legal advice on Oct. 9 at Family Project Homeless Connect (FPHC), thanks in part to more than 150 volunteers from Metropolitan State College of Denver who helped them access the services they needed.
FHPC – a partnership between Denver’s Road Home and the Mile High United Way – is one facet of the City of Denver's 10-year plan to end homelessness.
“The Mayor's Office was very grateful for Metro State's involvement in Family Project Homeless Connect,” says Randi Smith, co-director of the College’s new Center for Urban Connections, which organized the Metro State volunteers. “We provided the lion’s share of volunteers, and they all did a great job.”
FPHC, held at the Pepsi Center, provided a one-stop shop for families to help them stop struggling and start thriving. Metro State volunteers provided one-on-one “client support” at the event, helping them prioritize their needs and escorting them to the services that would best assist them.
Smith said that the aim of involving the College in FPHC was threefold: to help out the community of Denver, to provide a good service-learning experience for students, and to increase the level of direct community engagement in which the College participates.
Sophomore Joe Hensel said it was his first time participating in such an event. “It was eye-opening to see how many people are struggling with housing and valuable to meet people who aren't as fortunate as, say, Metro State students. It made me just a bit more grateful.”
Freshman Angelica Piedrasanta, who said that although she had volunteered before, she had never done so with the homeless population. “I learned that many of the stereotypes that we have just don’t apply.”
According to Smith, the Center for Urban Connections is already in discussions with the Mayor’s Office about how the College can assist again with a similar event in the spring. The Center does not anticipate a problem finding volunteers: In a survey of Metro State participants, all respondents said they’d do it again.