Student group turns spotlight on homelessness

By LilyAnne Rodriguez

According to Sarasota Magazine, the percentage of homeless people in the city of Sarasota is estimated to be as high as six times the national average.

The second week in April is Homeless Awareness Week, and the Student Coalition for Combating Homelessness & Poverty at New College hosted an array of events throughout to highlight how the community, including New College, can combat the issue of homelessness. They ended the week by hosting The Portraits of Homelessness, an event that featured Bradenton residents Ben and Jacki Love, who got out of homelessness 10 years ago. Since then, they married and gave birth to a child.

Ben Love speaking alongside his wife, Jacki, to New College students about homelessness.
Ben Love speaking alongside his wife, Jacki, to New College students about homelessness.

When speaking of the available resources aimed to alleviate poverty, Jacki Love said, “What helped me out was going to Turning Points to wash my clothes and feel better about myself, because I had people encouraging me.”

Turning Points is a homeless assistance program in Bradenton. The Love family accredited much of its success since escaping homelessness to the resources it has to offer.

“Turning Points paid for the first four months of rent, and they also paid my electricity down payment,” recalled Jacki Love when speaking of the process of renting an apartment for the first time. “This, in turn, gave me time to get my license.”

Despite being homeless at the time, Ben Love painted as a way to express himself and his experiences. Ben Love continues to paint images of homeless people.

“Someone has to know they were here,” he said.

The Love family’s experience showed students the hardships of homelessness and how prevalent it is in the Sarasota Bay area. Incoming New College students will work with community organizations that help people rise out of homelessness when they arrive on campus. Campus Life is organizing a Common Challenge service project focused on homelessness for the fall semester.

— LilyAnne Rodriguez is an intern in the Office of Communications and Marketing.

Located in Sarasota, New College of Florida has educated intellectually curious students for lives of great achievement since its founding in 1960. As the State of Florida’s designated honors college, New College provides an exceptional education that transforms students’ intellectual curiosity into personal accomplishment. The 110-acre campus on Sarasota Bay is home to more than 700 students and 80 full-time faculty engaged in interdisciplinary research and collaborative learning. New College offers nearly 40 areas of concentration for undergraduates and a master’s degree program in Data Science.

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