A guest post from AU student, Tyler Weingart:
This evening, I attended a panel on homelessness at the American University Library, featuring Community Family Life Services staff members Claudia Thorne, executive director, Angela Bennett, a case manager, and a client of CFLS.
3 members from CFLS spoke at the panel at AU's Bender Library
“Homelessness can happen to anyone,” Community Family Life Services (CFLS) director, Claudia Thorne, said at tonight’s panel discussion in Bender Library. The panel discussion, Solutions to Homelessness, was hosted by Gemma Puglisi’s PR Portfolio class who is involved with CFLS’ public relations revamp this semester.
One of the hot topics in tonight’s presentation was how our generation can get involved with the fight against homelessness. Foundations like CFLS rely on volunteers throughout the year to keep their efforts alive. One of CFLS’ case managers, Angela Bennett, described some of the initiatives students around the district can take part in. “At CFLS we are always looking for volunteers. We could always use help bagging groceries, organizing the food pantry, tutoring children and orchestrating donations.” Angela works as a housing case manager and says one of the best parts about her job is “to serve and help those in need.”
With the current economic situation our country is facing, people are being overwhelmed by unfortunate circumstances. “Here at CFLS we try and find a client’s purpose, tap into their strengths, and inevitably end the cycle of poverty.” It is increasingly important, Ms. Thorne said, that our generation understand the randomness involved with poverty and homelessness. It is not always your stereotypical drug addict or felon, but that homelessness can happen to just about anyone these days. A single mother whose husband walked out on her or a lack of education in today’s increasingly technologically advanced society may result in homelessness. Our generation needs to stand against homelessness and help those who have innocently fallen into an economically deprived situation.
One of CFLS’ visions is to have more participation from local universities. “I would love to have every student here at American registered in our annual walk-a-thon,” CFLS’ director said. Capturing the youth of the district would definitely create a more sustainable fight against homelessness in and around the DC area. Now that CFLS has an active Facebook, Twitter page and Youtube channel, they are well on their way to targeting the right audience to help their cause.
“When people move on, and when you know they don’t need your help anymore, that’s when you know you have accomplished something great,” Angela Bennett declared. CFLS has become a haven to many struggling individuals and families throughout the district, something they are extremely proud of. Now that the message is out, CFLS needs the next generation to take a stand. It will be the graduates of tomorrow who will be able to stop homelessness once and for all.
Thanks for a great night, CFLS!
From left - CFLS' Angela Bennett, Claudia Thorne and client