Many people are not aware of how many students in Oregon are homeless or that it affects students of all ages starting as young as preschool age. There are also several people that are unsure how to help those in need or where to find help if they need it. Our group decided that we would try and bring awareness to this issue. Social media is a great way to quickly share information with the public so our team decided we would make a Facebook page dedicated to spreading awareness. We plan to continue posting on our Facebook page even after the class has ended. We also had the opportunity to meet in the park blocks at Portland State University and spread awareness and raise some money for Outside In.
Taking advantage of the chance to share our research and collective knowledge of the homeless youth problem, our group set up a table between Neuberger Hall and Smith Memorial Student Union, armed with friendly faces and handfuls of brochures. With our team’s fantastic, colorful graphics displayed proudly across both table banners and pamphlets alike, we soon attracted the attention of the pedestrians wandering the campus. With the busy schedules of the students and the fear of being harassed by solicitors, we had a fair share of those who avoided our booth. Undeterred, we continued with smiles, greeting the passersby and asking them if they were aware of the homeless youth problem in Oregon.
It turns out quite a few who stopped by to listen were aware of how much the homeless youth population has grown over the past couple of years and put in their thoughts. One lady stated she was out there in the homeless communities, providing social services as part of her job. Some of the campus activity leaders gave us contact information to start a partnership with us, potentially extending our research to programs like RA training. Another individual who stopped by was familiar with Outside In and spent some time talking to us about what we were doing to fix the problem. At this stage, awareness was our goal, but we directed them to the non-profit organizations listed on the pamphlets for volunteering opportunities. We also informed them about our Facebook page dedicated to articles, videos, and statistics about the issue to see what the community response was like on the internet. Finally, we told our interested listeners that our campaign had a donation jar for Outside In and although we didn’t pressure for money, many were glad to give even up to five dollars to our cause!! It was amazing to see that people cared enough to give some of their money to help others who really need it to live at an acceptable quality of life.
Not too soon after we set up our spot for the day, we were running back inside to print more brochures! We were reaching so many people, students and non-students alike. Some students, including ourselves, even took extra to bring to their classrooms to reach those who we couldn’t see that day. Our goal was to spread awareness and people seemed to be glad to look at what we had researched. Often, we were left with a polite “thank you”, which encouraged us to keep getting that information out there. Another boost to our morale was the fact that we raised $28, simply from a couple of hours of spreading facts about our homeless youth problem! Outside In would be able to use that money to provide housing and medical services to a homeless teen in need.
Outside In is just one of many local organizations that helps homeless youth. Outside In provides many services such as housing, education, employment opportunities, counseling, medical care, healthy meals, recreation and art, and safety off the streets. There are several ways that people can get involved in helping such as volunteering or donating money to help fund these services. You can also help get involved by taking your dog to Virginia Woof Doggy Day Care. Virginia Woof is owned and operated by Outside In and is just one way that Outside In gives homeless youth the opportunity to learn useful job skills. One of our PIC team members is a current volunteer at Outside In so we were able to get an inside view of the great work that they do in our community. You can also view our group’s presence on social media to see all the work we have done so far.
Please like and share our Facebook page to help spread awareness.