On Saturday, March 25th, Volunteers In Action
is helping to bring the Sleep Out movement to the UVM campus for the first time.
Throughout the world, Sleep Out events are building awareness and support for local community organizations working to end homelessness.
On the evening of a Sleep Out, participants sleep outside in solidarity with community members facing homelessness.
Those who take on the challenge for the first time typically describe the experience as eye opening, unforgettable and transformative.
As an event organizer, I’m gratified to see enthusiasm and support for bringing Sleep Out to campus.
Students signing up are fired up about social justice, eager to bring a new tradition of service to campus, and excited to share the challenge of the Sleep Out with their friends, teammates or fellow student club members.
According to the State of Vermont’s Ending Family Homelessness by 2020 campaign, on any given night, over 1,100 Vermonters find themselves without housing and nearly one in four of them is a child or youth.
Bethany Pombar of Vermont Coalition of Homeless and Runaway Youth Programs points out that the challenges that affect many Vermonters, such as a high cost of living, lack of jobs and livable wages, and rising levels of substance abuse – can take an even greater toll on young people who lack the safety nets of family, education or employment.
The UVM Sleep Out will support Spectrum, the VCRHYP member agency of Chittenden County, which provides support services and temporary housing for youth experiencing homelessness or at-risk of losing their home.
Fundraising is not a requirement for Student Sleep Outs, but most students do participate, deepening the meaning and impact of their experience.
While this is the first time UVM has participated, the local Sleep Out movement and Student Sleep Out teams have been steadily growing for years, raising thousands to end youth homelessness in Vermont.
Local non-profits like Spectrum are increasingly reliant on community based fundraising efforts like the Sleep Out, as the complexity of the challenges faced by young people increases and federal and state resources continue to decline.
Note: There is no registration deadline for UVM Sleeps Out, but pre-registration is required. After registering, students are provided with the campus location and other event details. Contact [email protected] or visit fb.me/uvmsleepsout for registration instructions.
UVM Master’s of Social Work Student,
UVM Sleep Out Event Coordinator,
Spectrum JOBS program intern