Tempe, AZ – In February 2014, Project Humanities launched a volunteer initiative to benefit the Central Arizona Shelter Services (CASS). Every other Saturday from 6:45 – 8:00 am, student and community volunteers come together to serve the homeless population of Phoenix by distributing gently used clothes, shoes and other essentials. What started out as a spontaneous Day of Service has now turned into a habitual gathering of volunteers. Saturday, February 14th marks the one-year anniversary and 2015 kickoff of the program. This service project is one example of the many different ways that the award-winning university initiative continues its mission to engage members of the community by talking, listening, and connecting.
Central Arizona Shelter Services provides shelter and supportive services to homeless individuals and aims to help them regain control of their lives and end their homelessness. This partnership with CASS extends much needed services beyond the facility and onto the sidewalks of Phoenix. “Distribution of clothing has become the Project’s place in this,” said Dr. Neal A. Lester, Founding Director of Project Humanities. “What has been remarkable is even when people cannot go, they have brought donations to the office for us to distribute.”
Lack of funding and failure to meet fire codes leave CASS at risk to close down by April. Closing the shelter increases problems as more homeless people are turned away and are forced to live on the streets. “The fact that much of society has turned their backs on them [the homeless] does not mean that they are not worthy of our attention,” said Taylor Coe, a student volunteer who has been helping out since the first spontaneous Day of Service. “It is important to me that they know someone cares for them.”
This sentiment is at the heart of the Humanity 101 Movement, which focuses on the principles of respect, kindness, integrity, empathy, forgiveness, compassion and self-reflection. Launched in Spring 2014, Humanity 101 is an initiative revolving around the question, “Are we losing our humanity?” The movement aims at developing an educational and organizational connection between ASU and the community. “The homeless population is not monolithic,” said Coe. “They vary in their ambitions, pleasures, and pains just like anyone else. Connecting with these people and treating them with dignity, as we should all people, reminds me in a very real way that their struggles are real even though they are seldom spoken about in polite society.”
The Day of Service is held every other Saturday. The Day of Service has grown in its supporters and continues to grow each week. For more information on upcoming service days and other events, please call the office at 480- 727- 7030.