Events set to aid public understanding of poverty

Published on Tuesday, 22 October 2013 19:44 - Written by REBECCA HOEFFNER rhoeffner@tylerpaper.com

The East Texas Human Needs Network will hold two events in November and December designed to help East Texans understand the plight of those in poverty.

One Night Without A Home will be held from 4 p.m. Nov. 19 to 6:30 a.m. Nov. 20.

“Ever wonder what it would be like to experience homelessness? Want to know who is experiencing homelessness and why? Want to know how you can help? Join us for an experience you won't soon forget,” according to a written release.

The experience is sponsored by The Salvation Army of Tyler, People Attempting to Help, Tyler Junior College and the East Texas Human Needs Network.

Participants will spend the night in Bergfeld Park after dinner at The Salvation Army.

“You will be tempted to go home after the program instead of sleeping at the park,” network representatives said. “‘But, I have to go to work in the morning.’ Did you know that 47 percent of homeless individuals have jobs? ‘But, the kids have school in the morning.’ Did you know that 24 percent of those experiencing homelessness in Tyler are children? Please stay for the whole event, we know it will be difficult — this is part of the experience.”

Participants are encouraged to wear warm comfortable clothes and shoes and dress in layers. Bring a sleeping bag or blanket and cardboard. Only bring what you can carry in a backpack, and don’t bring more than $2.

Do not bring any electronics, camping gear or jewelry. Event organizers will have cellphones in case of emergency.

“You will feel disconnected from your loved ones,” network representatives said. “Let them know what you are doing and tell them not to worry about you, it's only 14 hours. We will have police officers with us throughout the event. Of course, this is a luxury not available to those experiencing homelessness.”

The next East Texas Human Needs Network event will be held 1 to 5 p.m. Nov. 18 at the Tyler Junior College West Campus in room 104.

The conference will highlight the results of a comprehensive, in-depth study conducted earlier this year of those in poverty in Smith County.

The survey looks at issues with education, employment, healthcare, housing, transportation, childcare, veterans and legal needs. It determines who is in the most need, who is providing assistance, what are the challenges faced by service providers, and how residents can help.

Visitwww.ethnn.org to register for one or both events, or call 903-216-3211 for more information.