Visit to Shelter Inspires Students to Learn About Homelessness

By: Bethany Williams, Midland Division

The staff at Family Haven felt
“blessed” to have eighth graders from St. Joseph’s Day School in Imperial, Mo. provide hours of service for the shelter on April 12th.

The group of students cleaned the Family Haven Child Center, a high-traffic playroom in the family shelter which serves up to 50 kids daily. Additionally, the students dug in and assisted the shelter with picking up the grounds, and deep-cleaning the dining area and administrative floor.

“Our group realized that what we accomplished in two hours would have taken the single groundsman days,” says 8th grade teacher Debbie Thomas.

After taking a tour of the facility, Mrs. Thomas challenged the students to imagine their family living in a small space without their daily pleasure such as iPhones or televisions.

“This experience has allowed my students to realize just how fortunate they are,” says Mrs. Thomas.

The experience at the shelter inspired Thomas and her group to take on the shelter as an ongoing project. During their tour, they learned more about the needs of the shelter, and Mrs. Thomas is hoping to work with her class next year to host a drive to meet those needs, collecting items such as stuffed animals, blow dryers, toiletries and books to provide comfort to the residents at Family Haven.

The group has spent much of the year doing extensive work and study on the issue of homelessness, and their volunteer service with The Salvation Army’s Family Haven shelter rounded out a year of exploring the important topic. Thomas says the trip to Family Haven reinforced an appreciation among the students for what they have, and a desire to help those who are less fortunate.

Family Haven’s staff warmly expressed their gratitude for the service provided by the students of St. Joseph Imperial,“The students are dedicated to the aspect of their religion that addresses serving their fellow man.”

Family Haven is a Community in Partnership program serving the homeless population in St. Louis. The program lasts 120 days where each resident is assigned a case manager and counselor to help them obtain a job and housing.

Their mission is to empower St. Louis residents to come to a place of self-sufficiency. Click here for more information on The Salvation Army’s homeless services.

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