Living in the shoes of a homeless person certainly resonated with three sophomores from Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy who stayed the night in “Shantytown,” an experience for high school and college students sponsored by Habitat for Humanity in the parking lot of Pasadena Nazarene Church on Feb. 4. The reality-driven fundraiser was organized to advocate for affordable housing and bring about awareness of the plight of the homeless.
“All we had were garbage bags, blankets and a cardboard igloo we built ourselves,” said Sophie Wellen, a member of the Youth United Leadership Committee for Habitat’s San Gabriel chapter which helped organize the event.
Over 100 participants built a cardboard city out of boxes, listened to a family whose downturn in fortune had left them homeless, and watched the movie “The Pursuit of Happyness,” the true story of a hard-working man who worked his way out of homeless shelters to run his own multi-million dollar brokerage firm.
Uncharacteristically, the temperature dropped to a chilly 44 degrees as the girls settled in for the night.
“I was so cold I couldn’t sleep,” said Cecile Sami. “Maybe that’s why we see homeless people sleeping during the day when it’s warm.”
“I really didn’t understand what homeless people have to go through until that night,” added Natalia Zamudio. “It’s really made me much more grateful for what I have – food, a family and a roof over my head.”