Inside Rensselaer
Volume 6, No. 8, April 27, 2012
   
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Mark Century

Fraternity Members Sleep Out To Raise Funds for the Homeless

Shelton Minnott and Matthew Dixon, members of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternityPhoto by Jessica Otitigbe
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Fraternity Members Sleep Out To Raise Funds for the Homeless

Despite the unpredictable mid-April weather, two Rensselaer fraternity members left the comfort and warmth of their dorms to participate in the annual “Sleep Out for the Homeless” fundraiser sponsored by the Omicron Upsilon Chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. Their goal is to raise funds and awareness of the homeless in the City of Troy and beyond.

For nearly 20 years, the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity has organized the annual event to collect monetary donations for Joseph’s House and Shelter, located in downtown Troy. The two students, who are also seniors, are Matthew Dixon, president and a member of the varsity basketball team, and Shelton Minott, who serves as vice president of the fraternity.

“We hope to raise overall awareness on homelessness,” said Dixon. “We recognize that it is an epidemic that is often overlooked. It is an incredible challenge to live day to day while lacking the basic needs of food, water, and shelter. The stigma that being homeless is synonymous with lazy is something that really bothers us. We have met people in shelters who had great educational backgrounds and amazing careers, but simply fell on hard times or had to live through a tough economy. Participating in this event is our way of showing support and understanding of the issue. Our goal is to help change the perception people have, inform people about the problem, and influence them to help.” 

From April 9-12, the Rensselaer Union front lawn served as the students’ temporary shelter. The students slept on pieces of cardboard in the makeshift shelter, using materials that were donated by various individuals. Throughout the 77-hour event, the students could only accept offers of food, beverages, and other items from members of the Rensselaer campus and local community. The students attended classes, but they couldn’t return to their dorm rooms until the end of the event.

Fraternity members realize that individuals can be homeless for a variety of reasons. By planning this annual event, they hope that people will find ways to support the local community and those that are dealing with homelessness, believing that a small act can go a long way.

This year, the fraternity raised $800. All proceeds will benefit Joseph’s House, which takes in more than 1,000 homeless adults and families with children, according to the organization’s community liaison. The organization provides individuals with meals, medical care, access to personal items, laundry facilities, and other resources. In addition, advocates work with guests to identify housing and services based on their goals.

The fraternity’s leadership development and community service training for young men has made Alpha Phi Alpha the most prestigious organization of its kind today. Today, Alpha Phi Alpha continues its commitment to the African-American community through the its Education and Building foundations, which provide scholarships to outstanding students and shelter to underprivileged families. The fraternity also has dedicated itself to training a new generation of leaders with national mentoring programs and partnerships designed to ensure the success of our children and youth.           

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 6, Number 8, April 27, 2012
©2012 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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