Students News

Night of Awareness

by Office of Marketing | May 21, 2014
Night of Awareness
April 11 was a time for VFCC to focus on the issue of homelessness. Between a chapel service that examined successful charity and an event that highlighted the reality of destitution in America, students and staff seized the opportunity to learn more about this extensive socioeconomic misfortune.  

Professor of Business and Department Chair Bill Clarkson, Ph.D., and Professor of Behavioral Science Stephen Stoeffler hosted the morning gathering. The service began with a short documentary from PovertyCure, an international coalition of organizations and individuals committed to entrepreneurial solutions to poverty that challenge the status quo and champion the creative potential of the human person. The professors then discussed the need for enterprise over aid in destitute communities around the world.
After a time of open discussion, Dr. Clarkson ended the service by saying, “I would encourage every student to participate in Night of Awareness … tonight is a critical part of understanding poverty.” He was referring to the collaborative effort between VFCC’s Homeless Ministry and the Good Samaritan Shelter (GSS) that occurred later that evening, as they jointly hosted Night of Awareness on campus. The event was held to promote greater awareness for the plight of homelessness in our community. 
Participants assembled care packages, made quilts and slept in a makeshift neighborhood of cardboard refrigerator boxes. Included in the program were speeches from former homeless individuals, prayer sessions for the poor and a candlelight vigil for those who lost their lives as a result of destitution. By the end of the night, well over $8,000 was raised for GSS – making it the largest amount donated through Night of Awareness to date.
This generous donation allows GSS to continue serving the Ephrata and Phoenixville communities by assisting single men struggling through impoverishment. The organization owns five homes in the northern part of Phoenixville, where it helps as many as 25 residents at one time find work and transition to permanent housing.
“The impact is always really personal,” said Zachary Way, leader of the Homeless Ministry, reflecting on the event. “It has changed my perspective, and I know that as people participate in Night of Awareness, they see a lot more of the struggles that go on.”
Night of Awareness is not the only outreach in which the student-led Homeless Ministry is involved. The group regularly ministers to homeless people all around Philadelphia on physical, psychological and spiritual levels. According to Way, “The most important thing that we do is talk to people … we focus not necessarily on sharing Jesus, but being Jesus. The homeless don’t get much interaction with other people, so we try to do that.”