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Worcester College Students Fighting Homelessness

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Students at Clark University are raising awareness about homelessness in a very unique way, to show the community that local families need shelter.

Rebecca Raphaelson, a Clark junior from Worcester, Mass. is leading the initiative to gain support for the charity, A Bed for Every Child, and plans to make a presence on campus to spread awareness. The plan started in one of Clark’s management classes.

Raphaelson will be installing a twin bed, fully made, with a speech bubble sign that says, “What would you do without me? #ABed4EveryChild” on the university’s main campus.

The students hope to generate a social media following for the organization.

“In the town of Lynn, Mass., alone they need 1,500 beds per year at $250 each. That's $375,000 that they can't raise alone, with no one knowing who they are,” Raphaelson said. “Worse, without good publicity bringing more social action pioneers, they will never achieve their goals of expanding and helping children all around Mass.”

The bed will be placed outside in Red Square beside the statue of Sigmund Freud where many students pass each day from Thursday, March 28, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Friday, March 29, from 2-7 p.m.

To break the cycle of poverty, The Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless’ HomeLink Initiative launched A Bed for Every Child Initiative, where funds are being raised to purchase a twin mattress, frame and linens for each student referred to the group by their partners.

The agency has banded together with public schools to assist at-risk families of students to avoid becoming homeless.

Currently, the group is working with the Lynn Public Schools to ensure each student referred to us will have a bed delivered to their home.

For over 25 years, the Coalition has operated the Furniture Bank which stabilizes over 3,000 households a year transitioning from homelessness to their own home by providing donated furniture and household goods to make a house a home.

Leveraging this experience and a network of partners, A Bed for Every Child will undertake outreach, build awareness of the need, and provide beds to children through this new collaboration. Their goal over the next 12 months is to distribute 1,500 beds to children in need who are attending school.

According to the agency, many of the students’ families have had an infestation of bed bugs – a growing epidemic in many urban areas, forcing them to throw out their beds without being able to afford to buy new ones.

Even more families are living in poverty and cannot afford to buy a bed in at all.
Although a bed may not seem like the most pressing social issue, it does have a major effect on a child’s ability to come to school prepared to learn, which can have long term consequences on their education. In Massachusetts, statistics indicate that 23% of students have the potential of not graduating.  


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