On Tuesday, October 29th, St. Norbert College Habitat for Humanity hosted their annual Shack-A-Thon event. The event began at 5:00 pm on Tuesday evening and concluded Wednesday morning around 7:00 am on the campus center lawn. The event raises awareness of homelessness by simulating what it may be like to be homeless. Below is an account of the event by Marisa Strothenke ‘15, Habitat for Humanity president at St. Norbert College.
By Marisa Strothenke ’15
SNC Habitat for Humanity President
I have always been passionate about the issue of homelessness and being a part of Habitat for Humanity allows me to advocate for the needs of this vulnerable population. Habitat has helped me realize the importance of a home. Everyone deserves a place to call their own. When I was elected as the president at the end of last year, I was given the opportunity of continuing with the efforts to raise awareness. Shack-A-Thon was the biggest awareness event.
Every year, students register to take part in this interactive and informational experience. Groups are provided a tarp, roll of duct tape, and cardboard boxes and are instructed to build a shack to sleep in overnight.
The event strives to raise awareness of homelessness and attempts to give people a glimpse of what it might be like to be homeless for a night. One of the participants commented on the event: “Although we had good weather and good company, I would never want to wander the streets (or even the campus center lawn) every night as the result of not having anywhere to go. I don’t wish that on anyone and I’ll do what I can to increase awareness of homelessness. That’s why I’m part of Habitat for Humanity and why I participated in Shack-A-Thon.”
During the event, a guest speaker is invited to talk about their personal experience with homelessness or how the issue has affected individuals they know. This year we had the opportunity to hear from two very inspirational individuals from St. John the Evangelist Homeless Shelter. The speakers focused on homelessness in Brown County, which made the event that much more impactful. By hearing about issues that are going on in our own backyard, it strikes a different chord with us. We are able to relate to and feel the effects of the stories and statistics.
Another activity that occurs during the event is our candle light vigil. We honor those suffering from homelessness by reading different statistics and allowing time for the sharing of stories, songs, or other reflections. I really think this is one of the most touching moments of the night. Being able to stand there with so many other people around you, who all share the same passion, is incredible. One of the participants said, “The experience of Shack-A-Thon was eye-opening. Spending a night with little to no protection from the weather was intense. I’m thankful that I only had to do this for one night. I can’t imagine facing the night every single day of my life.”
Shack-A-Thon is a large event and would not be what it is without the help of our entire Habitat group and Emerging Leaders. This year we had five first-year students assisting with the planning and coordination of Shack-A-Thon. They worked extremely hard to ensure everything ran smoothly and was successful. One Emerging Leader stated, “It was an eye-opening experience that I will never forget.”
62 students participated in this year’s event collectively raising over $200. The proceeds will be donated to the Green Bay Habitat for Humanity to help with future builds.
My number one hope surrounding this event was to increase participant knowledge about homelessness. I hope they are aware of the issue of homelessness not only around the world, but within their own backyard. Ultimately, I want to inspire attendees and ignite a new passion to make a change in the world.