Community Human Services Sleep-In for the Homeless

See the reflections of students who experienced the event at the Community Issue Blog.

On the evening of October 19, 2012, the University Honors College as part of its Community-Issues Special Events, led a group of fourteen first-year students from the Sutherland West Honors Residence Hall to participate in the Annual Community Human Service (CHS) Sleep-In for the Homeless. Students participated in this event because they are interested in learning more about how homelessness affects the lives of our local community.  

Prior to the event, our Community Engagement Advisor provided participants with a series of assigned articles on homelessness from national and local perspectives. Our Community Engagement advisor led the group in pre-immersion dialogue that focused on the group’s assumptions and expectations of homelessness and how these conceptualizations were challenged by the readings.

Our staff and students then participated in the activities of the CHS Sleep-In for the Homeless event. Afterwards, students discussed how the event impacted the students. The Community Engagement Advisor helped contextualize the experience and facilitated reflection on community engagement and the responsibility to apply our personal skills and academic interests to address social issues. Each student, regardless of academic interest, can integrate the learning process into addressing social issues. Students discussed how undergraduates do not need to wait until post-graduation and professional careers to use their skills and knowledge to make positive impacts.

The difficult questions that arose from the event require continued thought and consideration. Participants reflected on their experiences and wrote a blog post describing how the CHS Sleep-In for the Homeless Event impacted them. Through their blogs and shared feelings on homelessness, the students encourage others to learn more and to take action. These student blogs can be found here.  

Student participants have continued their efforts by developing an homelessness awareness campaign and t-shirt drive for the Home Lost Project in Sutherland, volunteering with CHS, and helping to plan a weeklong series of programs focusing on addressing homelessness and hunger in Pittsburgh.

For more information about Community Human Services contact Trevor Smith at tsmith@chscorp.org.

For more information about Community Engagement through the Honors College contact ryan.pitt.uhc@gmail.com.

Program Goals

  • To connect students to the issue of homelessness and how it affects our local Pittsburgh community
  • To encourage students to critically look at the issue of homelessness and to reflect on their perceptions and assumptions
  • To promote students to engage their academic skills and interests in addressing the issue of homelessness in our local communities
  • To have students share their experiences with others and to understand that social change comes through both societal awareness and action
  • To facilitate students to connect their academic skills and knowledge to directly addressing important social issues within our local community