This photo submitted by Mission Change shoes one of the boxes used to provide shelter at a sleep out last year. This year's sleep out for the homeless is Friday.
ALBANY, Ga. — The people behind non-profit Mission Change are ready to turn an open, grassy field by Albany Mall into a tent city Friday to help raise awareness of the plight of the homeless in Southwest Georgia.
Organizer LaDonna Urick says the 4th annual event is meant to help give the community a glimpse of the day-to-day hardships suffered by thousands of homeless across the state.
“It’s important that we share the experience with the community because the more people that can come out and be apart of this experience, hopefully the more attention we can draw to the issue of homelessness and the more we can do to stop it,” Urick said.
With temperatures set to hover around 39 degrees Friday night, it’ll be a chilly night for participants, but that’s all part of the experience.
The event started with a handful of people bringing cardboard boxes to sleep in. Now, with more than 100 participants, the boxes have given way to tents; and the solitude of a night that had broken only by the screeching of passing cars along Westover Boulevard, will now give way to poetry readings and music.
The issue of homelessness for much of the country remains an often unseen blight on society, Urick says. And while the economic downtown has forced more onto the streets, it has pushed even more into the ranks of what sociologists term “precariously housed,” — meaning a person or family who may not technically be homeless but are living in car or staying with other family members.
More still are only a paycheck away from homelessness.
“It’s overwhelming to think about how many people out there are just one paycheck away from being out on the streets,” Urick said. “I mean if something happened to (her husband) Todd’s job, I don’t know what we’d do.
“That’s why it’s important that we try and draw as much attention to the services that are available from area churches and the Salvation Army and the Rescue Mission and the food bank so that if that happens people know,” she said.
To donate or to find ways to serve, visit Mission Change’s website at missionchange.com.