Lafayette students come face to face with homelessness

Author: , Reporter,
Published: Nov 18 2013 05:11:30 PM EST   Updated On: Nov 19 2013 07:20:27 AM EST

It's National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, and the topic is taking center stage at Lafayette College in Easton.

Students heard first-hand accounts Monday from people who have spent part of their lives living on the streets.

"Someone who doesn't have anyone there for support. They're alone in the world, I feel like," said Amy Edwards, a junior, when asked what comes to mind when she thinks of someone who is homeless.

"I could be the face of homelessness because any face is the face of homelessness," Tyler Rodgers added.

Lafayette students saw the faces up close and personal.

"Spent most of my life in prison," one man said.

"I burned every bridge I ever had," another shared.

The Safe Harbor Easton residents shared personal, often times tragic stories. The candid talk was part of the campus' Homelessness Awareness Week.

"Sometimes, we get lost in this little bubble of college life and don't really realize who it's affecting. Events like this shows who it affects and it affects everybody." said Jessie Northgrave, a senior.

Tyler Rodgers, the head of Safe Harbor, is included.

"With popularity came drugs and alcohol," he told the crowd.

Rodgers said drugs had spun his life out of control, eventually leading him to the streets. It's a story he now sees on a daily basis.

"We are full every night of the week and every night of the year," Rodgers said.

On any given night, at least 50 people sleep on the streets in Easton, Rogers said.

In Allentown, that number is down 16 percent since 2011. It's a result, the city said, of a 15-year comprehensive plan to end homelessness in the city, thanks in part to shelters, like the one on 6th street, expanding.

One speaker, who has spent most of his life in prison or on the street, said being at a shelter doesn't mark the end of your life but an opportunity for a better one.

Rogers, who did turn his life around, hopes the event opens the eyes of a generation that may never have had to come face to face with hard realities of life.

"This is something they can say hey this is real." Rogers said.