Kennesaw State University opens dorm for homeless students

 

 

Kennesaw State University opens dorm for homeless students

KENNESAW, Ga. (Aug 12, 2016) — Excerpt of Article: Kennesaw State University is one of the first schools in the country to turn the key on a new program to help its homeless student population.

On Wednesday, the KSU Campus Awareness, Resource & Empowerment Center opened a one-bedroom, one-bath apartment that will give homeless students or students at risk of becoming homeless a place to stay for up to two weeks while finding a permanent residence.

The CARE Center is the first program to have its own designated room specifically for this purpose.

Marcy Stidum, director of the CARE Center and associate director of counseling and psychological services at the university, was excited to open the room to guests on Wednesday.

“It’s the biggest blessing and coolest thing I’ve ever done because I’ve had this idea in my crazy head for a long time,” she said.

The room, which is indistinguishable from other dorms, is handicap accessible and decorated and furnished with student necessities, such as desk supplies and towels.

KSU’s Student Government Association donated the supplies and took time to decorate the room so residents would feel more at home.

Victoria Brock, SGA president, said she and her classmates were shocked when they learned there were homeless students on campus, and they immediately asked how they could help.

“I feel like a lot of students joke about being a poor college student, but we’re really not,” she said. “I think students helping out with this project really shows what KSU is about. We’re very homey and have a strong community feel, and I think this just speaks to that.”

Beacon Foundation Charitable Trust, a Cobb-based foundation, donated $25,000 to cover the housing costs of the room, and Elizabeth Williams, a trustee of the Beacon Foundation, said the organization is dedicated to providing poverty relief, especially for students pursuing their education.

“We are excited to work with Kennesaw State as someone working on the cutting edge of meeting the needs and solving the problems of their homeless student population,” she said.

Established in 2013, the CARE Center provides a variety of services to students dealing with homelessness or risk of homelessness, food insecurity and students in or previously in foster care.

Working with other departments across KSU, like admission, financial aid and campus housing, the center gives students access to the campus food pantry and personal care items as well as assisting in case management and finding temporary or permanent housing.

Stidum said the organization has also partnered with Ecology Clothing to provide a clothing store where CARE students can go and choose their own clothing. That ability to choose is something Stidum said empowers the students.

“Poverty takes away choice,” she said, “because food stamps tell you what you get, unemployment tells you how much you’re going to get. I want my students to be able to go in and self-select. It’s extremely empowering.”

Stidum said since the CARE Center was founded, they have helped nearly 400 students and are currently working with 23 more, several of which are incoming freshman.

In the last 12 months, the center has given out 384 bags of food and helped 110 students. In 2015, $13,506 were given in donations and 14 students were housed or prevented from eviction.

Stidum said she has four students who are eligible to start living in the new dorm room on Tuesday, and she is hoping that some university students won’t move in over the weekend so some of those students can receive student housing.

“It’s not an easy decision to make,” she said.

However, it is one that in the long run, she said she is happy to have the opportunity to make with this new dorm room.

“It doesn’t have to be front page news because I’m just happy to have what we call a win for that day,” she said.

Those wins are certainly appreciated by those who are helped, and one CARE student, whose anonymous testimonial is posted on the center’s website, said “(the CARE Center) opened up opportunities for me and gave me a hand when I thought nobody cared.”

By Amy Selby

Name of Publication:
Marietta Daily Journal

Link to Article:
http://www.mdjonline.com/news/kennesaw-state-university-opens-dorm-for-homeless-...



A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 35,000 students. With 13 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university's vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. A Carnegie-designated doctoral institution, it is one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.

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