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Bradwell students learn homeless plight
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Von Gilmore, program assistant for Hinesville Homeless Prevention Program, hands out options for housing, phone service, furniture and other necessities during an exercise at Bradwell to teach students the importance of making wise budgeting decisions. - photo by Tiffany King

Many things can lead to someone becoming homeless and Bradwell Institute students learned the importance of making the right choices in life.

Hinesville’s Homeless Prevention Program, within the city’s Community Development Department, visited Bradwell Tuesday as part of its Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.

The national week draws attention to the problems of hunger and homelessness through education, service, fundraising and advocacy events.

Kristin Bryant, Hinesville Homeless Prevention director, Von Gilmore, program assistant, and Teanesa Fabain, grants specialist, met with 100 seniors.

Bryant asked students what comes to mind when they think of a homeless person. Students answered someone with no help and someone with no place to call home. They said losing a job, financial debt, natural disaster and lacking a family support system can lead to homelessness.

“I know that we watch movies and see people living in cardboard boxes under the bridge and we think that’s what homelessness is, but that’s not always the case,” Bryant said. “There are various reasons why people become homeless. In this community we have a large military community and a lot of times some soldiers get out of the military and they’re not prepared financially, so they need help and stable housing. We have a lot of people with mental disease. You do have a lot of people that abuse drugs and alcohol and need additional support. And then you have people who have no family, so when they lose their job all they have to depend on is themselves.”

Before the presentation students completed a survey which gaged their thoughts on homelessness.

Gilmore said, according to their responses the majority believed people were homeless because of their decisions with money and taxpayer money is not being used to help the homeless.

Students participated in an exercise to see how good they are with money and decisions.

Students were put into 10 groups and selected a team captain. Bryant represented the bank and each captain was given a job and money.

The groups had to select housing based on their salary and then paid the rent. Most groups chose to rent either in a mobile home or apartment.

They had to pay the water bill and electric bill and consider which luxuries they could afford, such as internet, cable or phone service. Students discussed what type of transportation to take and factored in car insurance and what type of furniture to buy.

With each decision the team captain came up to pay the bank.

They also selected a Life Happens card, which represents unexpected situations such as divorce, medical bill, car repair, vacation, promotion, owning a pet and vehicle tax.

Many groups had lively discussions as they weighed the best, affordable options.

Bryant said the purpose behind the activity was to show how easily someone can become homeless by one mistake and find themselves in need of help.

“The choices you make now set you up for your future and that’s why we want you to take the time and think about those choices,” Bryant said. “Many of you all decided not to have cable. How happy would you be without cable in your mother’s or father’s house? Because it’s your money you’re making different choices, which is good. You have to make different choices based on what you have. Most of you put down that you weren’t in danger of being homeless but you had $200 to $300 left. You’re in danger of being homeless if that’s all you have left at the end of the month. One thing that wasn’t on the list was groceries and you need to eat.”

The goal of the Homeless Prevention Program is to help everyone become sufficient, Bryant said.

“The program is there to help, we do have guidelines we have to follow but if we can assist, we will assist,” she said. 

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