WCU to mark Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week Nov. 15-21

Western Carolina University will participate in two community service projects, a film show, guest presentations and discussions, and a potluck dinner as part of National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, which is Nov. 15-21.

The WCU Center for Service Learning is coordinating the events at WCU.

“Our participation in the week’s events will help us face the stark reality of hunger and homelessness across the nation and right here in our own communities,” said Glenn Bowen, director of service learning. “Furthermore, it should serve as a catalyst for concerted action to assist our neighbors who are experiencing these poverty-related conditions.”

Staff members of administrative support units under the Office for Undergraduate Studies will do volunteer work at the Community Table in Sylva on Monday, Nov. 16. Carol Burton, assistant vice chancellor, and staff members will prepare and serve meals and do cleanup tasks at the community dining facility. The Community Table, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in August, serves dinner, free of charge four evenings a week to Jackson County residents.

“The Pursuit of Happyness” will be screened at 8 p.m. that evening in the theater of A.K. Hinds University Center. Based on a true story, the 2006 drama is about a struggling salesman (played by Will Smith) who takes custody of his son as he is about to begin a life-changing professional endeavor. During an intermission, Amy Grimes McClure, executive director of the Community Table, will discuss hunger-related issues with the audience.

On Thursday, Nov. 19, Jeanne Naber, coordinator of the Haywood County Meals on Wheels, will make a presentation to students in faculty member Jeanne Dulworth’s social work class. The presentation, which will take place in the University Center theater from 12:30 to 1:50 p.m., will be open to the campus and community. A discussion will follow the presentation.

That evening, a representative group of service-learning faculty, administrators and students will visit MANNA FoodBank in Asheville. The 15-member group will spend two hours sorting and packing food items for distribution to a network of community-based nonprofit partner agencies that serves individuals and families in need throughout the 16-county Western North Carolina region.

The final event for the week will be a potluck dinner on Friday, Nov. 20, from 6 to 8 p.m. The dinner will be hosted by the Wesley Foundation at the Cullowhee Methodist Church on the WCU campus. This event is free and open to the public. Bringing food is not required but encouraged. The event will have live entertainment featuring a WCU student brass quintet as well as speakers, testimonials and educational information.

More than 70 percent of Western North Carolina households with children among clients served by Manna FoodBank and documented by Hunger in America 2006 were “food insecure,” while 53 percent of households facing hunger must choose between paying for food and paying for utilities or heating fuel.

For more information, contact Brendan Braaten, project coordinator in the WCU Center for Service Learning, at servicelearning@wcu.edu or (828) 227-2592.