Archive for Monday, November 22, 2010

Bishop Seabury students get 24-hour glimpse of homelessness

November 22, 2010


Huddled around a fire to keep warm, Bishop Seabury students spend the night outdoors on the front lawn of Bishop Seabury Academy Sunday. The students were each only allowed two blankets. The event was held to raise food donations.

Huddled around a fire to keep warm, Bishop Seabury students spend the night outdoors on the front lawn of Bishop Seabury Academy Sunday. The students were each only allowed two blankets. The event was held to raise food donations.

Huddled under blankets to keep warm on a chilly November night, Bishop Seabury freshmen, from left, Aine McGrath, 14, Alicia Cotsoradis, 14 and Courtney Cooper, 14, tell stories as they spend the night outdoors on the front lawn of Bishop Seabury school Sunday evening as part of a sleep in blanket service event. The students were only allowed two blankets each. The event aimed to raise food donations.

Huddled under blankets to keep warm on a chilly November night, Bishop Seabury freshmen, from left, Aine McGrath, 14, Alicia Cotsoradis, 14 and Courtney Cooper, 14, tell stories as they spend the night outdoors on the front lawn of Bishop Seabury school Sunday evening as part of a sleep in blanket service event. The students were only allowed two blankets each. The event aimed to raise food donations.

Huddling around a small campfire for warmth, 50 high school students found out first-hand a little of what it would be like to live without a home.

The Bishop Seabury Academy students — freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors — were in the middle of 24 hours of serving and learning about the homeless community.

Bill Gollier, the school’s community service coordinator, has helped organize the event in Lawrence for the past six years.

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Gollier said. “It’s one of the funnest things I do.”

Under Gollier’s guidance, students worked with organizations that aid the local homeless population. They worked on various projects and collected food from the nearby community to donate. The food collected was organized by grade in the Bishop Seabury parking lot for distribution on Monday.

“On one hand it’s sad,” freshman Thomas Westbrook said. “But on the other it’s good to be able to help.”

Gollier said the school’s goal of collecting 7,000 perishable food items would be difficult, but that didn’t stop the students, who volunteered for the project, from trying.

“We have a lot of fun doing it as a school,” Bishop Seabury junior Alyson Oliver said. “I like giving back to my community.”

Students also worked much of the day without food, their last meal coming at lunchtime, their next not until lunch a day later. Going without food was difficult for many of the students, who were not used to skipping meals.

“We’ll start fasting and later on it’ll hit you that you’re hungry,” Oliver said. “You have to keep pushing through and you think about how many other people have to do that every day.”

The temperature Sunday night dipped to around 40 degrees, colder than Gollier had expected after the warm afternoon. It was even colder for freshman Isaac Ward, who forgot his socks.

“I’m learning how hard some people have it,” he said.

And Gollier said while the students usually start the day upbeat and excited, the gravity of the experience seemed to set in during the early morning hours. He said the quiet of the night combined with the dark and the cold created a somber mood.

“It makes them think,” Gollier said. “It’s not perfect. A lot of people do a lot better things, but it’s worked well for here.”

The students will continue working through the early afternoon Monday to distribute the food they collected and finish projects. They’ll get to return to their families and beds Monday night, but many said the experience will stay with them.

“I’ve found a new definition for what a community is and what you do to make a community stronger,” Oliver said. “I think it brings us really close together.”


rtwngr 7 years, 7 months ago

I applaud the attempt, I am curious how you can experience the unknown. All of these kids know that this is temporary and the next night they will be in their beds all nice and warm. The homeless deal with uncertainty and despair. Questions for the homeless are, "What will the next day bring?"

kansastruthteller 7 years, 7 months ago

You miss the point. The students are not homeless and hopefully, never will be. The point is to raise food for the poor, to raise awareness of the plight of the homeless and to do community service, i.e., give back to the community.

The event obviously only provides a brief insight into what the homeless actually face everyday. What it does do is to help shape the character of these young students. It makes them realize that they should be understanding of those that are homeless and to give of themselves to change the lives of others who need help.

I applaud the efforts fo the students without qualification.

coolmarv 7 years, 7 months ago

Way to go Seahawks. You are a great school for the community. I am glad it did not get too cold. Not a lot of adults would sleep outside at 40 degrees and go 24 hours without eating, by choice, to help supply food banks and raise awareness.

troll 7 years, 7 months ago

I admire the efforts of the kids to understand what homelessness is like, but it does smack of "slumming" and "class tourism". Reminds me a lot of the Pulp song "Common People", which William Shatner did a great remake of by the way.

coolmarv 7 years, 7 months ago

I am not sure what 'class tourism' is but if it is refering to the students of BSA being a different social/economic class then perhaps it is that 'class' that will make a difference in the world. The school serves charitable organazations throughout the year. Each student must complete a minimum of 30 hours of community service each school year and that is part of a requirement to graduate.

Clovis Sangrail 7 years, 7 months ago

Maybe instead of just having a fun campout for the privileged progency of golf-hat dentists, car dealers and others of the country club ilk, Seabury could fill in that swimming pool as soon as the lease expires wth Alvamar and build a homeless shelter there. Then the tykes could enjoy the homeless experience close-up on a daily basis as they push their way past a throng of panhandlers on their way to homeroom.

WHY 7 years, 6 months ago

Paid my taxes and voted for programs to help the poor and unfortunate. Voted for an increase in taxes on the rich and health care for the poor. Unfortunately the christian conservatives fought me so nothing was done. What I didn't do was camp out and pretend like I was one of them.

WHY 7 years, 6 months ago

Dear Hope, It is hard being me waking up every morning and reading about people doing the most absurd things. I am not convinced that the rich are the most productive, but I do think the government has a obligation to care for its citizens. I do blame a number of things on the conservative christian group mostly because they preach care for their fellow man, but if it costs a few buck he can die in an alley. The fact that my life is empty and meaningless will not stop me from arguing that kids spending an evening camping teaches about the difficulty of poverty, mental illness and addiction. I will not crawl into my hole, and will continue to provide intelligent and insightful commentary on this sad world I live in.

WHY 7 years, 6 months ago

Dear Hope, I am sorry that the staff removed your post. I was not offended.

Coolwater 7 years, 6 months ago

I admire your intentions, but only on the grand scale. I believe you have it wrong on this specific topic. Please, Email me so we can continue talking about it in a more comfortable setting than LJ world forums.

Coolwater 7 years, 6 months ago

Okay, thanks for the advice on what the kids of the school could do! By the way though, no public schools in lawrence do any of what you just said, or half of what the kids of Seabury do. So instead of anonymously commenting on a bunch of kids trying to do good, why don't you go to dillons and yell at the people only giving $5 dollars to the bell ringer.

short_one 7 years, 7 months ago

@Clovis--perhaps you should take a bit of time and learn a little more about Seabury. Yes, there are privileged kids there--just like there are at every other school in this town. There are also kids who are on scholarship and whose families are making great sacrifices to send their kids to a school that is the right fit for them. Quit being so narrow-minded, hateful and bigoted and open your mind to the fact that a great thing about Lawrence is that our families have enough educational choices to find the one that is right for their kid...

WHY 7 years, 7 months ago

Actually there are a number of schools in this town that do not have the privileged kids, but I am sure you just never visit that side of town. This article is stupid and hanging out for a night with a camp fire, which most homeless can't have in the city, for one night is insulting to people who really need help. Stupid rich kids.

Beth Ann Bittlingmayer 7 years, 7 months ago

How sad that any adult would talk in this judgmental manner and promote hurtful negative stereotypes. These remarks are certainly not providing a role model for any child in our community.

WHY 7 years, 6 months ago

You are wrong. My comments do serve as a role model for a child in the community. A child who will not spend a night with his friends at a sleepover and get to pretend that by doing so he is helping anything or learning how the other half lives.

Coolwater 7 years, 6 months ago

@ Your first sentence (before the comma): That's completely untrue. The original poster meant that every school has at least a few priveleged kids, just maybe not as much as Seabury. To say that there are a number of schools in town without privileged kids is ridiculous. @ first sentence after comma: Stupidity, clever rhetoric meant to make people believe the first part. @ the third sentence: The seabury kids are not claiming to have it as bad as the homeless people for that night. We are doing this so people give food items to us so we can deliver them to the shelters. @the last sentence: Halarious, maybe this comment is a joke?

I know that you do not work at a shelter. I know that because everyone at the shelters love it when they hear that Seabury is coming to help out. You probably don't do anything at all for the homeless people in our town. Again, this comment says nothing about what we are doing wrong. (nothing that has any logic behind it). Only what we could be doing more. So let's see you do something.

WHY 7 years, 6 months ago

I don't care whether you do anything at all. The story "students get 24 hour glimpse of homelessness" is absurd. These kids know nothing of being without, and if they were not stupid rich kids they would not need me to tell them that a stunt like this is dumb.

Coolwater 7 years, 6 months ago

You seem to be making two seperate arguments. LJ world shouldn't have made this article "Students get glimpse of homelessness", I agree. That was not at all the point of the event htough. None of the kids claim to know anything about homelessness, or at least thats not the point of the event. It is a hard event however, and certainly less comfortable than their everyday lives. The point of the event is to get people to donate food, which people certainly do. It's like when people walk 3 miles to get people to donate money or something. The walkers raising money for cancer don't claim to know what having cancer is like, they are just trying to help. Also, why exactly is a stunt like this dumb? It certainly yields results, and you have said yourself that it is not very uncomfortable or something.

Clovis Sangrail 7 years, 7 months ago

I know quite a lot about Seabury, as my kids went there. It was permeated to the core with rich kid bullying and an air of entitlement, and staff was not inclined to do much of anything about it. But then, when one is beholden to one's students' parents and grandparents for the donations that keep the school afloat, one is bound to turn a blind eye towards those students' transgressions.

Coolwater 7 years, 6 months ago

That is so amazingly wrong. From someone that goes to seabury.

Clickker 7 years, 7 months ago

Strikes me as more of a campout than anything. Some of the Gentry of Lawrence cannot feel the pain that the true victims of the system are feeling.

Hop2It 7 years, 7 months ago

Although well intentioned, it does sound like a campout without food. Perhaps spending the night at the homeless shelter would be more appropriate, then maybe a trip to the Ballard Center, Health Care Access and SRS.

avoice 7 years, 7 months ago

Actually, before spending the night outside they spend the afternoon at LCS, Salvation Army, Family Promise, or Ballard Center for four hours of service work including stocking shelves, building shelves, cleaning bathrooms, kitchens, etc. Then they collect food throughout neighborhoods around the school. Then they sleep outside and in the morning they join the rest of the Seabury students for community service work from 9 a.m. to noon, again at places like Ballard Center, Salvation Army, daycare centers, senior care homes, etc. Maybe not quite like being homeless, but definitely a lot more service work than most people are able to accomplish in 24 hours.

Hop2It 7 years, 7 months ago

Sounds good. Better than the article.

Coolwater 7 years, 6 months ago

You overlook so many things. First of all, while 6 hours of it are a campout, the other 18 are community service. We don't eat for 24 hours, and we are either extremely cold or tired most of the time.

rikkiends 7 years, 7 months ago

Serving the community is a huge part of being a Bishop Seabury student, teacher, or parent.

I assume that every person who makes assumptions about the financial situations of all the Seabury families hasn't actually met all the families and is just talking out of their...assumptions.

chocolateplease 7 years, 7 months ago

Nurturing a student's desire to be generous, empathetic, and grateful seems good.

BallardCommunityServices 7 years, 7 months ago

Ballard Community Services would like to thank these young adults for trying something new, and for including Ballard in their project through their food drive as well as volunteering yesterday afternoon and this morning. They are great students and we always appreciate their time and efforts to help others in the community.

Additional pictures of these young volunteers can be be found here:

Scott Tichenor 7 years, 7 months ago

We're proud to send our kid to Seabury. It's a great school with remarkable caring teachers and faculty. Bill Gollier is a saint among great teachers. We like the mix of students. Plenty of them are from East and North Lawrence, ourselves included--sorry, we definitely don't quality as part of the so-called country club set. Oh, and the swimming pool? Yep, it is getting filled in in the near future... to accommodate the continuing growth of the school. Schools like this either perform exceptionally well or go out of business.

superhans 7 years, 7 months ago

"Rich Kids Play Pretend, Ask What Homeless Means".

Looks good when they're on their way to Ivy school interviews, probably. Richy Rich knows he'll be hitting par for the course and getting the housekeeper to make his dinner tomorrow so what's the point.


Bob Forer 7 years, 7 months ago

Great. A bunch of rich kids playing hobo for a day. How enlightening.

Amy Heeter 7 years, 7 months ago

I know, let's let these kids have the fanciful belief that is only present in youth. Soon enough they will join the ranks of certain bloggers who see no hope in the flowers.

sad_lawrencian 7 years, 7 months ago

This is about the stupidest thing I've ever seen or heard of.

akt2 7 years, 6 months ago

Attention all Bishop Seabury students and/or teenagers in general: Please ignore the hateful, rude comments as posted above. These are the bitter words of adults who have managed to screw up everything they touch. Including their own lives as well as the country in general. They can't even remember the last time they dedicated 24 minutes to a worthy cause, let alone 24 hours. They have nothing better to do than complain about everyone and everything. Carry on with your fresh ideas and your youthful ways. These haters will never be happy. They are only happy when they are putting others down.

Avery Pearson 7 years, 6 months ago

Forget the hate. It doesn't matter if they're being class tourists or not. They're still donating cans Some might learn from the experience, and some might have just generated a few cans. All the same on the receiving end. The kids that learn from the experience get to benefit. The kids that don't just got cold.

timeforachange 7 years, 6 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

WHY 7 years, 6 months ago

Then they would never know what homelessness is all about.

avoice 7 years, 6 months ago

Did you miss my post above where I explained that they DO hard labor? When my daughter was an 8th grader, her group cleaned bathrooms at the Salvation Army during this annual event. It doesn't get much grittier than that. They have taken up tools and built shelving units. At their own school, they volunteer to help keep the grounds, including raking, digging, planting and mulching. At lunchtime each day, the students set up the tables and clean up the room afterwards. And as someone else mentioned, they are required to do 30 hours of community service work every year, from 7th grade right through their senior year. Whenever and wherever they volunteer, they do whatever is asked of them with a positive attitude and a smile. What more could we ask of our young people, no matter what their socio-economic background or circumstances?

Coolwater 7 years, 6 months ago

they went form noon till 8 doing labor, then 8 till 8 sleeping in blankets, then from 8 till 12 doing labor. Maybe not hard labor though.

acg 7 years, 6 months ago

I echo akt2. Don't listen to these people. Nothing you do will ever make them happy because they're just miserable and always will be. What you can do is not grow up to be like them. Keep fighting the good fight and keep doing good for yourselves and your community. Some of us out here still applaud and appreciate it.

WHY 7 years, 6 months ago

Continue using fake help to solve real problems and don't listen to the rest of us. We are all dumb dumbs.

Coolwater 7 years, 6 months ago

In general response to the comments below that are expressing dislike of what the Seabury kids did:

Even if we are all rich, which is certainly arguable, so what? Are rich people supposed to be the only ones to help with this? I wasn't aware that community service should only be done by those in need. Also, the kids of seabury are not claiming to know what homelessness is like now. They are, however, helping those in need. They filled the pantries of the salvation army, among other shelters. Even if we didn't help that much, which we we did, we still helped more than the average school does, and we certainly didn't hurt anything.

justonething 7 years, 6 months ago

does anyone that is against this have something constructive that people could do to help the homeless that they are doing?

i know many of you will say paying your taxes and that is great but the majority of these kids don't do that. this is their way of giving and that should not be shut down.

how is this possibly "fake help" in the words of WHY?

WHY 7 years, 6 months ago

The kids should acknowledge that they have no idea what homelessness is like. If concern for their fellow man is actually important they should sell their xbox 360 and give to the poor. They could hold up signs that say "tax the rich so the poor don't starve." What is offensive is rich kids pretending that they have an insight to poverty after 24 hours.

Coolwater 7 years, 6 months ago

Dude, go look at all my replies to your comments. Respond to them here. Also, if you are going to click "reply" to a comment, try to reply to the argument that you have been neglecting.

WHY 7 years, 6 months ago

You argue that public schools do not do things like this which is probably true. You argue not just poor people should help out--true. You think there are privileged kids at every school in town--ok. You state that I don't do anything for the homeless personally which is true. You think the kids did a nice thing by getting canned goods--fine.

My point is simple. The article is titled "Bishop Seabury students get 24-hour glimpse of homelessness." Homelessness is a product of mental illness, addiction, poverty, disease, and despair. It is absurd and insulting to those truly suffering that these kids think they even got a glimpse of what it means to be homeless after a one night campout with blankets and a trashcan campfire.

Coolwater 7 years, 6 months ago

Not sure I could agree more. LJ world got it wrong, in my opinion. Alot of people may read the headlines and take it for truth. I applaud you for actually thinking about the article. By the way, I never said that you probably don't do anything to help. I kinda saw that as a weak argument and didn't say it. I spent alot of time researching poverty last year, it was the highschool debate topic.

On to your point. I do not believe that these kids think they know what homelessness is like. I am one of the kids that did the campout. It WAS annoying, and hard to get through for the 24 hours. I neitherclaim to know what homelessness is like, nor do I claim to have experienced anything close to it that night. I believe I speak for everyone when I say that.

You also seem to be saying that we are "Stupid rich kids". Taking the fact that we disagree with LF world'd headline, do you truly think that?

Mary Darst 7 years, 6 months ago

OMG, I can not believe the negative remarks. At least this school is exposing them to a problem that is spreading around our nation in leaps and bounds. Yes, they did get to go back to a safe and secure place. But I'll bet a few DID learn something, and this experience will make them more conscious about that plight of others. I think doing community service, for credits to graduate is awesome. We need some character building.

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