Members of Phi Theta Kappa-Alpha Kappa Rho, the Southwestern Illinois College Granite City Campus’ National Honor Society, are raising money to send a team of students and staff to New Orleans to build a home for a family affected by Hurricane Katrina. A quarter auction fundraiser is set for Friday, April 10, in the Commons at the Granite City campus, 4950 Maryville Road.
Members of Southwestern Illinois College Granite City Campus’ National Honor Society, Phi Theta Kappa-Alpha Kappa Rho, raise funds yearly to help Hurricane Katrina victims — and this year is no exception.
The group already is hard at work, raising money to buy supplies needed to send a team of students and SWIC staff down to New Orleans to build a home for a family … but they need your help to succeed. A quarter auction Friday, April 10, in the Commons at the Sam Wolf Granite City Campus, 4950 Maryville Road, can help achieve Phi Theta’s goal.
“The New Orleans Mission is one of the city’s main homeless shelters, filling to its 220-person capacity each day,” said Claire Proctor, the mission’s assistant executive director.
The center is housed in a 100-year-old building and receives no government funding, surviving on the kindness of businesses and grants that often prove to be a challenge to obtain. More than 25,000 meals are served every month, and Louisiana State University and Tulane Medical School provide free medical care one day each week at the mission. An eye doctor and podiatrist also provide services to the homeless.
Sixty-six percent of New Orleans’ homeless are women, and families often are separated as a result, adding stress to an already difficult situation and potentially dissolving the family unit.
Natural disasters often cause temporary spikes in cities’ homeless populations, but for a homeless population to continue to grow three years after a disaster is unprecedented, said Michael Stoops, executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless.
“Being the victim of a natural disaster is no longer a guarantee that the government is coming to your rescue,” Proctor said.
Before Katrina, most of the mission’s residents were chronically homeless and jobless. Today, about 40 percent of the people who stay at the mission have full-time jobs. It is the same story at the other homeless shelters in the area. The homeless population created by Katrina has motivated advocates for the homeless to coin a term, “homeless homeowners,” for residents who paid off their mortgages and may not have had insurance when Katrina’s floods devastated their homes and forced them into the streets. To make matters worse, rent and the cost of living has in some cases tripled since Katrina.
One of the most popular gatherings for the homeless is under the Interstate 10 overpass at the corner of Claiborne Avenue and Canal Street in downtown New Orleans. A pre-Katrina handful of camping tents and sleeping bags soon bloomed into more than 100 tents or people living in their cars after the storm.
“The situation continues to be a vicious cycle for the New Orleans population who are still suffering the aftermath from Hurricane Katrina,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu says.
Phi Theta Kappa treasurer Brittany Ballew is spearheading the fundraising this year, along with club secretary Magdalene Oats and their sponsor, Patricia Pou. She and the officers have hit the streets, asking businesses for items for the auction.
There will be many vendors, crafters and artists donating to the auction, along with attendance prizes. Entry fee is $5 per paddle and bring your own quarters or $20 for an all-in paddle without the need for quarters. Doors open at 6 p.m. with the auction beginning at 7 p.m.
For more information, call (618) 931-0600, ext. 7441.