GALLIPOLIS — The Gallia Academy Key Club, in conjunction with the Gallipolis Kiwanis and Gallipolis Rotary clubs, stayed the night in the Gallipolis Municipal Building as they invited local groups to visit and discuss issues about homelessness in southeast Ohio.
According to Gallia Academy Key Club President Pooja Dayal, the three groups hosted their second “Cardboard City” event during the weekend — but without cardboard. The event aims to bring students and community members together in Gallipolis City Park where individuals build cardboard shelters and sleep in the park as part of a the discussion on homeless issues. Students have often “begged” for cash as part of the learning experience.
Students brought the event into the office building to escape a rainy evening.
According to Margaret Evans, a Gallipolis Rotary Club member, students approached Rotary Club members with the idea. Rotary members felt it would be a beneficial project to the area and partner with Gallipolis Kiwanis to put the idea into practice. In the previous year, admission fees were charged and individuals could visit and donate to the event.
According to Evans, Serenity House did a homeless simulation lecture the previous year. Serenity House is a nonprofit domestic violence prevention organization and shelter. Sojourners Care Network sent two representatives to speak with students over the course of the evening about local homeless issues and abuse prevention as oftentimes both situations can go hand in hand.
According to Evans, statistics can be difficult to gather in regards to measuring homeless issues in the area as the nature of homeless individuals may wander about.
Sojourners sponsors 63 sites across Athens, Gallia, Hocking, Ross, Meigs, Pike, Pickaway and Vinton counties in hopes of allowing individuals access to a safe location. Sojourners sponsors programs bent on educating young people about the dangers of running away or trying to handle difficult social situations on their own.
According to information gathered from the Sojourner Care Network website, 1.6 to 2.8 million children run away from home each year. Many do so to escape abuse, neglect or even drug abuse in families.
The safe place sites are meant to provide locations for youth to go if they run into a difficult situations. Safe places display a yellow-and-black diamond sign. Many of these locations are schools, fire stations, libraries and even convenience stores.
Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.