ALLEGANY, N.Y. — St. Bonaventure University graduate student Chris Anderson does not want to raise just money to fight homelessness. He wants to raise awareness.
He spent the better part of two days outside doing just that. He not only raised awareness in the Western New York community and he raised nearly $1,000.
Hut-A-Thon was held from Friday, March 23, until noon on Sunday, March 25, outside the University Ministries building on the St. Bonaventure campus. Anderson, an intern in SBU’s Collaborative Counseling Clinic, stayed with other participants in a makeshift hut constructed with the help of local contractors and home improvement businesses.
The fundraiser benefited Genesis House, the Olean, N.Y., shelter that helps the homeless get back on their feet, and Phi Rho, the local chapter of the Chi Sigma Iota National Counseling Honor Society.
“We decided to join forces with Genesis House to hopefully show how two issues are linked,” said Anderson, who was inspired to re-create at St. Bonaventure the Hut-A-Thon experience he had while he was an undergraduate at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa.
“I think there are so many stigmas attached to homelessness that just aren’t true, that people are just making poor choices, or that they’re just not trying hard enough. So often there are mental health issues that lead people to homelessness, so we hope to make people understand that more.”
Participants who joined Chris in the initiative asked friends, family members, co-workers, and teachers to pledge money for the period of “hut” time for which they signed up.
“Homelessness doesn’t take a break in bad weather,” said Chris, at right in photo above.
Anderson said he hopes the event made people in the region more aware of SBU’s Counseling Clinic, which opened last fall and provides affordable mental health and academic services for the region.
“Very few colleges have an on-site clinic like this that provides both mental health counseling and academic services,” Anderson said. “It’s really quite a resource for the community, especially to be able to reach such an underserved population with very affordable service.”
Several people were instrumental in getting the fundraiser off the ground, Chris said. They include Kari Maleski, a graduate student and an AmeriCorps staff member stationed at Allegany-Limestone High School which provided many student participants; Marc Fernandes, secretary of Phi-Rho, and Mary Adekson, faculty advisor to Phi-Rho of which Chris is president. In addition, Trevor Thompson and Bob Donius of SBU’s University Ministries provided valuable assistance.
“The area school students probably raised nearly two thirds of the entire amount of money that was raised,” Chris said.