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Homeless share experience with students

Amber Hemmerle

Amber Hemmerle

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Nearly 600,000 people are homeless right now in the U.S., and anywhere from 40-65 of those people will find themselves at the Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky tonight.

Three of those people found themselves speaking to a group of NKU students in the Griffin Hall digitorum on Nov. 13.

Rachael Winters, the director of the Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky (ESNKY), began her presentation with a video, which spoke volumes to the audience.

The video was packed with images of men and woman sleeping on the riverbank, on benches and in the snow with dirty clothes and nowhere to call home.

“It’s more difficult to find a place[location] for a homeless shelter, than a jail or methadone clinic,” Winters said.

The ESNKY provides food, clothes, laundry and other services to the 11 counties that surround Covington, Ky.  According to Winters, the only “shelters” that most of these counties have are animal shelters.

“We would run across that street for an old, beat up dog, but would we do the same for a human?” Winters asked. “If I sent out an email that says ‘I found this man and he needs a home.’ How many responses would I get?”

The event then turned its focus to the three men who sat in the front of the room: Lavore Frazier, Eric Shelton and William Carter.

All three men had different stories, but all three men had a common message: That homelessness can happen to anyone, at any time.

Winters told the audience that the ESNKY has seen people of all walks of life. People with PH.D’s, Master’s degrees and bachelor’s degrees have all called the ESNKY home.

Two students from NKU and several students from Gateway Community and Technical College have reached out to the ESNKY for help.

“Just because you’re educated don’t mean you won’t need help one day,” Frazier said.

Bringing awareness to this growing problem is one thing that Winters wanted to accomplish during the event. Homelessness is happening everywhere, right in our hometowns, right on this campus.

Students can help those in need by volunteering, visiting the shelter, doing donation drives or simply saying hello to those you see on the street.

“It’s not something we choose, it’s something that happens,” Shelton said. “Before I became homeless I never thought about saying, ‘Hi.’”

Frazier lost his job, Shelton was in a car wreck and Williams had three heart attacks. These events forever changed their lives, but thanks to the ESNKY they have been given a second chance.

Sitting at that table in the digitorum preparing to give a speech about homelessness could have been anyone’s father, brother or uncle. Instead, it was these three men.

“I feel very ignorant,” Megan Beckenrich, a sophomore international studies major, said. “I didn’t know how bad it [homelessness] was in Northern Kentucky.”

After the presentation, Frazier, Shelton and Williams stayed around talking to students and giving out hugs to everyone who came.

Most of us probably went home to our own beds and families that night, but those men returned to the Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky, the only place they have to call home right now.

Students can email Rachael Winters at emergencyshelternky@yahoo.com for more information about volunteering.

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Homeless share experience with students