The third annual Homelessness Night in which youth spend 24 hours living as homeless people is scheduled to start on Friday at 10 p.m. and run through 10 p.m. on Saturday. The event will be held at the Fountain Bowl bowling alley in Jamestown. There will also be a car wash and an eat-for-a-cause barbecue.
According to Chris Apperson, founder of My City Revolution, the event was created to support a nonprofit that aims to teach a life and job skills course that is geared toward foster care, high school dropouts or alternative or juvenile students, who are the three groups most likely to end up homeless.
"For 24 straight hours students will get the experience of being homeless," said Apperson. "They can't eat unless food is donated or they beg for it. They'll have to sleep in cardboard boxes or out in the air. They won't have access to electronics or other conveniences they are used to. Part of the purpose of it is to raise awareness because homelessness is one of the biggest growing epidemics in the United States. It's rapidly getting worse around the nation. So, my nonprofit organization My City Revolution runs a program called MITI to teach life and job skills."
MITI is short for the Molitor International Training Initiative, a 30-week course targeted towards youth as a "creative and powerful way to help people let go of their past and forge for themselves a successful future." According to Apperson, MITI is the most powerful program he has ever seen.
"I've been working with youth and young adults for 17 years," said Apperson. "It's (MITI) by far the best thing I've ever seen. We're targeting students aging out of foster care because they are the No. 1 group percentage wise who end up homeless. It's because they have no tools, no support, no anything. So, our goal is to connect with them before they get out of the system to give them tools and to help them overcome some of the things that they having going on in their lives so that they can move forward."
In addition to being homeless for 24 hours, the students will be offered 'teachable moments' in which the portions of the MITI program are utilized. According to Apperson, there are currently between 15 and 20 youth involved in the program, and he expects that to double before it starts.
"It is open for those who want to come be involved in the event as far as being homeless but for that to happen we have to talk with parents first," said Apperson.
The event will also feature a car wash and an eat-for-a-cause barbecue. The car wash will be held by the homeless students from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 4. The eat-for-a-cause barbecue is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
"Come to the car wash, get something to eat, or just drop a donation off, it's up to you how you want to help," said Apperson.
Apperson's motto for the event states: "One night of selflessness to revolutionize the futures of the less fortunate."
"It's students giving up one night of their life, because let's be honest, kids in our culture can be quite spoiled," said Apperson. "So, the students are giving up technology like the TV and iPods, and even the ability to go relax in their room. If it's hot or raining they can't be dry. The idea is to be selfless for a night to raise funds for other people who don't have the ideal home situation."
Another aspect of the program is to teach students to work hard and the importance of helping others, and ultimately to make right choices.
"They are going to have to work together," said Apperson. "Last year kids built cardboard mansions in which they all had their separate rooms. Then they work together in the car wash. And, the exposure to the MITI program teaches them the importance of making right choices. You learn that the best thing is to be supportive and helpful, rather than to be hurtful."
According to Apperson, the program is the perfect opportunity for the community to come together to make a difference in the lives of youths in Jamestown.
"The community has to work together and not push things under the rug because when you don't deal with them they just get worse," said Apperson. "To me, it seems the only thing we can do is to decide that we're going to work together to make a difference."
The Fountain Bowl is located at 3316 Fluvanna Ave. in Jamestown. For more information on the event visit mycityrev.wix.com/mycityrev#!home/mainPage and click on "One Night Revolution."