Taking an in-depth look at homelessness and food security in Fredericton was an eye-opening experience for students at St. Thomas University.

Students recently got a glimpse of the realities of these issues during the STU Cares Day of Action—a one-day event that connected them with local organizations working on the front lines of homelessness in the city, including the Fredericton Community Action Group on Homelessness, the Community Kitchen, and Liberty Lane.

For Anna Sirois, a first-year student from Edgecomb, Maine, the event was more than a volunteer opportunity.

“Attending events like these doesn’t only provide volunteer experience, it educates you on the reality of a lot of issues we discuss in the classroom,” she said.

 “In my Sociology classes, we’ve learned a lot about inequality in society between gender, race, and class, and it was eye-opening to see the inequalities in a real life and in a local setting.”

Students spent time preparing and serving meals at the Community Kitchen, and learned what initiatives exist to help create permanent housing in the city.

Homelessness in Fredericton came to life for the STU Cares Day volunteers when a guest speaker told his story of living on the streets while suffering from multiple sclerosis.

Emilia Gutérrez, a first-year student from Quito, Ecuador, said this was the most impactful part of her STU Cares experience.

“It was an amazing experience to talk to him. It surprised me how someone who had such a rough life—not knowing where his next meal was going to come from or where he was going to spend the night—could remain so positive,” she said.
“It was an eye-opener to see how people struggle on the street, but also how many people are willing to help others.”

Gutérrez is studying Human Rights and this experience reaffirmed her passion for that field of study and provided a direct link to her course material.

“Activities like this remind me why I chose to study Human Rights. In this case, the right to health, food, and housing isn’t being fulfilled,” she said.

“This event really put into perspective what we’re learning in class and I’m excited for future STU Cares Days that will further enrich my university experience.”

Jennie Giles, a second-year student, originally from Ontario, said she thinks volunteering, helping others, and giving back to your community is essential to a liberal arts education.

“This was my first time being involved with STU Cares, and I absolutely loved it. It was inspiring and educational,” she said.
 
“It really helped put what we learn in class into practice.”

Apply to St. Thomas University for September 2018 now!