“Homelessness can happen to anyone,” says Claudia Thorne, the executive director of Community Family Life Services (CFLS) a local D.C. nonprofit that provides aid to the homeless community in the D.C. metro area.
Thorne spoke on behalf of CFLS and shared her experiences with the community’s homeless population last Thursday at a panel held in AU’s Bender Library. School of Communication professor Gemma Puglisi’s Spring 2011 Public Relations Portfolio class hosted the panel, which also featured CFLS case manager Angela Bennett and a CFLS client who had risen from homelessness.
Puglisi’s class is working hand-in-hand with CFLS to provide it with a strategic public relations plan, focusing on social and traditional media outreach, marketing materials production, providing assistance with their annual gala and fundraising through on-campus events such as the panel.
Held in a simple Q&A format, the panel informed attendees of how college students can get involved in the fight against homelessness. Organizations such as CFLS rely on volunteers throughout the year to keep their efforts alive. Bennett described some of the initiatives students around the district can take part in. “At CFLS we are always looking for volunteers. We could always use help bagging groceries, organizing the food pantry, tutoring children and orchestrating donations.” Bennett says one of the best parts about her job is “to serve and help those in need.”
Thorne emphasized that in addition to providing the most basic needs for clients, “At CFLS we try and find a client’s purpose, tap into their strengths, and end the cycle of poverty.” She spoke extensively on the fact that in many cases becoming impoverished or homeless is not always related to drug abuse or criminal activity. In fact, today, many members of the homeless community are victims of job loss, lack of education, divorce and family issues. Thorne put out a call to action to the younger generation to stand against homelessness and help those who have innocently fallen into an economically deprived situation.