Zion Shelter hosts ‘sleep out’ to put spotlight on homelessness

Published 8:03 pm Wednesday, November 15, 2017


“What is it like to be homeless? What does it feel like to be without a home to return to at night? Unable to take a bath? Without a warm bed to sleep in and a soft pillow upon which to lay one’s head?”

Those are questions posed by Zion Shelter Board of Directors member Leesa Jones, in press release about a unique, national event called “One Night Without a Home.”

Friday night, members of the board of directors for the Washington men’s homeless shelter and other volunteers will find out what one night without a home is like when they “sleep out” from 8 p.m. to midnight in “Crab Park” at the corner of Main and Gladden streets downtown.

“The officers, staff, board and volunteers of Zion are motivated to offer this opportunity to the people of the county because they believe that children and adults should not have to worry about whether they will have food on their plates or roofs over their heads,” the press release reads.

The statistics break down to more than 549,000 homeless Americans and 2.5 million children in America experience homelessness each year; in Beaufort County, that translates to more than 100 school-age children who are without permanent, safe housing, forced to sleep on the couches of relatives and friends, in cars or on the street, the release states.

“Homelessness can be easily disregarded if we have no understanding of the harsh realities endured by men, women, and children living on the streets. It is our hope that this ‘sleep out’ might better inform the more privileged that homelessness is more than statistics or stereotypes. Homelessness has many causes, many obstacles and comes in many genders, colors and ages,” said Zion Board Chairman Polk Culpepper.

According to Jones, “One Night Out Without a Home” doubles as fundraiser for the shelter, in that participants can be sponsored.

“Participants in the event can only bring cardboard or a folding chair to sit on and a blanket or quilt to keep warm. They cannot bring food,” Jones wrote in an email. “A ‘sponsor’ can bring a participant a hot drink and donate money for each hour the participant attends the event.”

Jones said churches, civic groups and businesses have been asked to participate, and donations will also be accepted from those who cannot attend the event.

For more information, contact Leesa Jones at 252-833-0995.