Human Dignity Donation Box

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Human Dignity Donation Box

Students have set up a "Human Dignity Donation Box" in the Commons at Sheil Catholic Center, Evanston. This box was designed as a means for Sheil students to connect with those experiencing homelessness in Evanston.

As you run errands in downtown Evanston, go to dinner with friends, or partake in other endeavors that draw you to a location where someone effected by homelessness tends to be, you are invited to consider bringing some of the goods in this box with you on the trip to offer to them. This is an opportunity to practice the ministry of presence: simply being with someone, in struggle and in community.

As Catholics, we are not only called to service, but Catholic social teaching tells us that every individual has a right to human dignity. As Catholics, we have a duty to ensure this is possible for all individuals. This box is meant to provide resources for students to actively engage in Catholic social teaching in our local community. It is also designed to be mainly student funded and student run. The Church blesses us with many gifts, and now we can take those gifts and transform them into new gifts for our community!

If you feel so called, please take some goods with you on your trip. If you don’t feel comfortable with engaging someone directly, consider donating funds to keep the box stocked, perhaps forgoing that extra coffee this week and using those three dollars for service. You can Venmo @hanerzzz or leave cash in the box located inside Wioletta’s administrative office that is directly off the Commons.

Both safety and engaging in a manner that is empowering to those we seek to support are extremely important. Please consider the following tips. If you have additional questions feel free to contact Tim Higgins at t-higgins@u.northwestern.edu, Hannah Boyd hannahboyd2022@u.northwestern.edu, or Sophia Schiffer sophiaschiffer2024@u.northwestern.edu

Human Dignity Tips and Safety

  • Engage in conversation! Make eye contact. Learn names. Ask how someone’s day is going. Take time to form a relationship and learn someone’s story. This is the human dignity. Learn their story but remember not to share any of your personal information. Avoid mentioning “Sheil” or where you live on campus.
  • Offer positive reinforcement and words of encouragement! A smile, a “it gets better,” a “you matter.”
  • Never offer cash. Use the goods from this box to provide a service.
  • Avoid trying to help someone "logic" through their situation. i.e., “Get a job.”
  • Use your intuition. If someone appears inebriated or does not appear to want to interact, choose not to engage. Threaten to call the police if you feel unsafe
  • Remember, we are all people, and we all have bad days. If someone is irritable one day, it does not mean they will be the next. Offer grace.

It is OK to feel uncomfortable at first, or to build up confidence in engaging with unfamiliar people over time. Keep in mind that just a smile, nod, or small form of acknowledgment goes a long way.

Note: If you would like to use dining dollars or funds to purchase goods, please reach out for a list of needs. If in conversation you learn of goods that are needed by someone, let us know so we can stock the box with these goods in the future.

Homelessness is, and should be seen as, a temporary condition.

-Michael, a local veteran dealing with homelessness