On November 17th, the Social Justice Club at Mount St. Mary’s University hosted a panel titled “Hunger and Homelessness” in Laughlin Auditorium. The panel consisted of two Mount professors, Dr. Caṅadas and Dr. Collinge, and Ms. Kwiatek, a professional who works with homeless individuals in the area.
The moderator first asked the panelists what homelessness looks like. The panelists replied that homelessness does not have a specific look and that many people in the US, including children are currently homeless. The moderator then asked why homelessness happens in America. Dr. Caṅadas replied that homelessness can come from broken families or a lack of education. He explained, “A lot of people are working but this is not enough- they have vulnerabilities.” He continued saying that the economy is a major factor that affects homelessness in America. It could either help or make the situation even worse.
Next, Dr. Collinge replied to the question with a reference to the Gospel in which Christians are encouraged to take care of the poor. He said that helping the homeless relates to a “notion of common good. There is a good for the whole society when the homeless are helped– when one person is suffering, the whole society is damaged in some way.”
The moderator then asked the panelists what we, as a community can do to help. Dr. Collinge replied that we need to work for better social policies and “recognize that our social policies are leading the needy into greater need.” Dr. Caṅadas replied that we should look at the causes of particular problems and understand that the government cannot solve every problem, but can give us the resources for trained organizations to handle and distribute.
Lastly, Ms. Kwiatek replied to the question with a statement of hope. She explained that Frederick hopes to end local homelessness by 2025 and that they have step by step plans to do so. She expressed that people should not do something for an individual that he or she is able to do for themselves because it will enable them to continue asking for handouts. She stressed the idea that society should give homeless people the dignity to give back in some way, even by doing simple tasks in return for favors. She advised that people should limit one way giving to emergency situations and “strive to empower the poor through employment.”
In conclusion, the Hunger and Homelessness panel was enlightening because of the advice the panelists offered and the positive attitude they exhibited in hopes of decreasing homelessness and creating a better society.