What do you call a bunch of HBSers taking turns sleeping in a tent on the frozen ground between Aldrich and Spangler? Deluded campers? Masochists? Evidence that maybe the admissions committee isn’t quite as brilliant as we thought?
Well, maybe. But more likely, the people trying to stay warm out there are participating in the Armed Forces Alumni Association’s (AFAA) second annual fundraiser for the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans.
Last year, the AFAA raised approximately $9,000 for the shelter by taking turns running for 24 consecutive hours around HBS. This year, they’re hoping to raise more than $10,000 by taking turns spending 80 consecutive hours (from 7 am Monday to 3 pm Thursday) in a tent. In Boston. In February, when the average temperature is a mere 38 Fahrenheit and the average low just doesn’t bear thinking about.
“It may sound extreme,” said John Brown (OE), former Marine and current AFAA member, “but we’ll be out there for only 80 hours while homeless veterans have to endure the elements every single day.”
The statistics tell the story. Each year, 500,000 veterans (two percent of living veterans) – men and women who served as early as World War II and as late as last year – are homeless. In fact, the number of homeless Vietnam-era veterans is greater than the number of service persons who died in that war. More than two-thirds of homeless vets served for at least three years and more than a third were stationed in war zones.
Though the numbers and the needs are staggering, there is hope. The New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans helps to rehabilitate and reintegrate veterans who are homeless, unemployed, or underemployed by providing them with the tools to be self-sufficient. The shelter not only serves hot meals to those in need (700 a day), but also helps homeless men and women find their way out of a life on the streets.
The shelter emphasizes job training and employment and in the last three years, their innovative Vet Tech program has placed more than 1,000 men and women in full-time positions. And the shelter also offers the support services – from individual case management to substance abuse counseling to financial counseling – that make long-term, lasting success possible.
The New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans is proof that every little bit helps. We’ll be taking donations at designated times during class and at all times at the tent. Please throw in what you can spare for the shelter and support your classmates as they shiver for a good cause this week.
For questions or clarifications, please contact Dann Angeloff at (617) 596-2202