Beacon Inc. is planning a volunteer day at the Friend’s Place Emergency Shelter, located at 919 S. Rogers St, for people experiencing homelessness Sunday to clean and organize the homeless shelter.
Beacon is a Bloomington community organization that aids and empowers those in need throughout the community, according to its website. It runs Friend’s Place, an overnight shelter housing about 40 people per night.
Beacon volunteer coordinator Novella Shuck said it needs as many people as possible for the event. Organizing storage areas, rearranging bedrooms and cleaning throughout the shelter are all tasks Shuck said needed to be completed. The goal is to maintain a suitable living environment for those who stay overnight, she said.
By volunteering at the event, Shuck said students can not only help those in need but also learn about the community surrounding them.
“Knowing about the various struggles that people in our town go through gives people a more holistic view of what Bloomington is and what Bloomington means,” Shuck said.
Shuck said everyone is stuck in a perspective bubble, and it can be difficult to expose oneself to other people’s experiences. Volunteering is a way of bursting that bubble, she said.
“Coming to the Friend’s Place was the beginning of everything changing for me,” former Friend’s Place resident Leslie Tate said.
One of the groups participating at the event is MEDLIFE, an IU student organization focused on aiding those struggling with poverty. According to its website, MEDLIFE members volunteer at locations such as Friend’s Place every day.
MEDLIFE volunteer coordinator Mallory Pine said participating in volunteer events at Friend’s Place was eye-opening.
“I feel like we kind of live in a bubble while we’re on campus,” Pine said. “The first time I volunteered, I was shocked with how many people went through the food line because I feel like I had never seen any of that while I’m on campus.”
While MEDLIFE serves local residents struggling with poverty, Pine said it also strives to help people in other countries. MEDLIFE participates in service trips in the summer and spring break taking students to different countries needing volunteers, she said.
Pine participated in a similar volunteer event at Friend’s Place at the beginning of the semester. The upcoming event is a great starting opportunity for those who have not volunteered before and can offer students an enriching experience, Pine said.
“I think it’s very rewarding to realize I have it so lucky,” Pine said. “When we can make a difference, it’s important to do so.”
Those interested in volunteering can RSVP on the IU Bloomington Event Calendar website or contact Novella Shuck at firstname.lastname@example.org.