Sleep Out Saturday
Imagine sleeping outside on a wintery night.
That’s the reality for some homeless individuals and for one night, that’s what a group of high school students did through Bridge Communities’ Sleep Out Saturday.
High school senior Grace has done the Sleep Out before, while it was freshman Katie’s first time.
“After the first year that I did it, when I went into the city for the first time I definitely looked at the people who were living on the streets differently because I know what that feels like, even though I only did it for one night,” said Grace.
“I know my parents give money to organizations, but then this way I know I’m actually doing something for myself, for these people,” said Katie.
Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church
Grace and Katie were part of a group of 21, including youth and adult mentors, from Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church.
They were one of many groups in DuPage County who participated in the event.
“The kids are excited. They’re always energetic about this. But they also come wanting to learn more and really eager to hear the different ideas,” Stephanie Engel, Director of Youth Ministries at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church.
They spent the day building their boxes, which would be their shelter for the night, and doing different activities.
One highlight of the night was hearing from speaker Lisa McNeeley about her story of having trouble finding a home with two children and finally finding help through bridge communities.
For 16 years, the Sleep Out has helped raise money for the transitional housing organization and raise awareness about homelessness.
“Homeless moms and their kids are not generally the ones on the streets. They’re the people in a cheap hotel, they’re the people that are doubled up in maybe an unsafe environment, they’re sleeping in their car,” said Vicky Joseph, community Outreach Coordinator at Bridge Communities. “So it doesn’t hit you in the face, but it’s out there and we need people to know.”
A Lesson Learned
After 16 hours in the cold night air, it was time to pack up and get back to the warmth.
But the group is aware that not everyone has that luxury.
“The biggest impact I got out of it this year was that we’re just doing this for one night. And it may not have been comfortable, a lot of people have to do this a lot longer than we have to do it,” said high school junior, Andrew.
Naperville News 17’s Aysha Ashley Househ reports.
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