Duluth homeless events kick-off with sleep out Saturday, Sept. 30
Hundreds of Duluthians will be sleeping out under the stars Saturday, Sept. 30. Some will be homeless; some will be helping the homeless. The CHUM/Gabriel Project is holding a Night Without a Home, a communitywide sleep-out to kick off Project Ho...
Hundreds of Duluthians will be sleeping out under the stars Saturday, Sept. 30.
Some will be homeless; some will be helping the homeless. The CHUM/Gabriel Project is holding a Night Without a Home, a communitywide sleep-out to kick off Project Homeless Connect.
Project Homeless Connect is a national project to ensure homeless people get the services they need.
Project Homeless Connect will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday at the DECC. The event will connect service providers with homeless individuals. The providers will offer medical and dental services, housing referrals, veteran services, hair cuts, information and more to Duluth's 500 to 600 homeless individuals.
The sleep out is a way to connect the greater community to the event.
Duluthians will be sleeping out at eight churches or other centers throughout the city.
The people sleeping out have found sponsors to donate items homeless people need such as sewing kits, socks, blankets, toiletries, undergarments, etc. These items will then be handed out to the homeless people who attend the Project Homeless Connect event Wednesday, said Kim Crawford of the Gabriel Project.
"This is fantastic because we have eight sites where people are sleeping out. ... To me it is very humbling to see the community come out like this," Crawford said.
Project Homeless Connect was started in San Francisco in 2004 and takes place in 32 cities across the nation, including St. Paul and Minneapolis, according to the San Francisco Connect Web site.
The project was brought to Duluth by a committee of the Mayor's Task Force to End Homelessness, said Karen Anderson, WLSSD community relations director and Project Homeless Connect volunteer.
The purpose of the project is to make sure people get their basic needs met and get in contact with resources to help them get into a stable situation.
It is estimated that 253 children experience homelessness in northeastern Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless.
In St. Louis County, 40 percent of homeless children were in short term emergency arrangements, 53 percent of homeless people were mentally ill and 57 percent have lived in Minnesota for more than 10 years, according to the coalition.
A lot of homeless people aren't out sleeping on the street. Many sleep in the woods, their cars, a friend's house or in transitional housing, said Ben Small, Gabriel Project/CHUM community organizer.
Also, 30 percent of homeless people have worked in the past month, and 38 percent of homeless people are families, he said.
Mayor Herb Bergson and County Commissioner Steve O'Neil will speak at each sleep-out location throughout the evening.
One sleep-out site is Asbury United Methodist Church, 6822 Grand Ave.
Church, youth group and Boys and Girls Club members will gather at the church and sleep in the parking lot in refrigerator boxes and sleeping bags.
They'll have a fire pit and maybe sing some songs, but the group wanted to make the sleep out as real as possible, so it could understand what homeless people go through, said Shelly Vanneste, secretary administrative assistant and congregation member at Asbury.
Asbury won't have bands and no s'mores, she said.
"They felt because they were doing this to increase awareness about homelessness, it wouldn't be right to do stuff," Vanneste said.
Instead, the group will spend the night brainstorming ideas about how the community can help homeless people.
A youth group from Brainerd will participate at Asbury.
Each site will be different. Some sites are having bands and discussions. Everywhere people will be sleeping in tents, boxes and cars, but the forecast is for cold weather, Crawford said.
Anyone who wishes to hear Bergson and O'Neil speak may come to any of the sleep-outs. A person does not need to spend the night. They can stop by and join in the discussion about homelessness or donate items or money for Project Homeless Connect, Crawford said.
News to Use:
Communitywide "Night Without A Home" locations include:
- Asbury United Methodist Church, 6822 Grand Ave. Speakers' tour begins at Asbury at 7:45 p.m.
- CHUM Parking Lot, 102 W. Second St. Speakers' tour stops at 8:30 p.m.
- Eastridge Community Church, 3727 W. Arrowhead Road. Speakers' tour stops at 9 p.m.
- Concordia Lutheran Church, 2501 Woodland Ave. Speakers' tour stops at 10:30 p.m.
- University of Minnesota, Duluth, Kirby Center Bus Stop. Speakers' tour stops at 11:30 p.m.
- College of St. Scholastica, Science Lawn / 1200 Kenwood Ave. Speakers' tour stops at 9:30 p.m.
- Family of God Lutheran Church, 4097 Martin Road. Speakers' tour stops at 10 p.m.
- Temple Israel, 1602 E. Second St. Speakers' tour stops at 11 p.m.