CSM Students Raise Homelessness Awareness

By R.J. Duvea and Michelle Brosco Christian

A small group of English students at the College of Southern Maryland recently turned their Student Service Learning assignment into an event to express their concerns about the struggles of the homeless.

The event, “Homeless Awareness: Lend a Helping Hand,” took place March 28 at CSM’s La Plata Campus. The event involved a number of speakers, a bake sale, a toiletries collection and a food drive for the Southern Maryland Food Bank.

“There are a lot of people starving to death throughout the world and we all have to do something about it,” said Waldorf resident and CSM social sciences student Deveraux Smith who spearheaded the event.

Smith urged his classmates to make their class project more than just a presentation to the class. “Most people said let’s just do a PowerPoint; I wanted to do something bigger,” said Smith, who was once homeless himself.

Other students involved in the event included Alyssa Hirsch of Huntingtown, Rebecca Jenkins of Charlotte Hall and Brittany Meade of Indian Head.

After being homeless at a young age, Smith said he now enjoys volunteering his time for those who are in need and he said he is grateful to be in a position where he can help those who are going through a tougher time than he did.

CSM Assistant Professor of English Debbie Wilson spoke at the event commending her students for their efforts and sharing her own experience of being homeless as a young girl in South Carolina.

Charles County Commissioner Vice President Reuben B. Collins II attended the event saying, “These kinds of efforts have always been of interest to me,” explaining that he was a community activist in Southeast Washington, D.C., when he was in college. He urged the audience to ask the county commissioners via e-mails what is being done about the “burgeoning homeless community” in the area.

Other speakers included CSM Student Life Coordinator Jennifer Lesesne, CSM Adjunct Instructor of Sociology Carlette Ritter and LifeStyles Assistant Director Corae Young, who urged people to make donations to the LifeStyles of Maryland Foundation, Inc. to help fund food and clothing for families in need.

Smith said he hopes to continue these awareness activities with food, clothing and toiletry donation drop-off locations around the campus and by having students volunteer time to help at the food bank and homeless shelters.

“To me it’s a chance for everybody to come together and be a part of something big,” said CSM student and President of the Black Student Union Clarence Joe II.

For information on LifeStyles of Maryland, visit www.lifestylesofmd.org. For information on the Charles County Commissioners visit www.charlescounty.org. For information on service learning at CSM, visit www.csmd.edu/servicelearning/.

R.J. Duvea of White Plains is a CSM student currently enrolled in CSM Assistant Professor Michelle Brosco Christian’s “Writing for the Media” course.