Why I’m sleeping out on the Quad to end homelessness

All Are Welcome to Join the World’s Big Sleep Out

Arun Zachariah
Arun Zachariah, a DePaul senior, will sleep out on the quad Dec. 7 for the World's Big Sleep Out because he believes "it is possible for everyone to play a small part in helping to solve this problem." (Photo by Johnathan Aguilar)
Is it possible to end homelessness? In a word, yes. 

“Where there is political will, and where resources are used wisely, we see great progress in ending chronic homelessness,” says Lydia Stazen, director of the Institute of Global Homelessness at DePaul. 

That’s why Stazen and many others from DePaul are planning to sleep out in the quad on Dec. 7 for the World’s Big Sleep Out. The event is open to anyone in the Chicago area who would like to raise awareness and funds to help organizations fighting homelessness. 

“For one night, we will sleep out to show solidarity and support for those experiencing homelessness,” Stazen says. Chicago is one of more than 50 cities participating across the globe, with the worldwide goal of raising $50 million for local and international charities. 

As a call to action for World Homeless Day Oct. 10, IGH is inviting the DePaul community to sign up for the Big Sleep Out. DePaul faculty, students and staff can use the code DePaulUNI to waive the $20 registration fee. 

Meet a few members of the DePaul community who are planning on sleeping out Dec. 7, and make plans to join them:

Arun Zachariah, senior in the Driehaus College of Business majoring in accounting 

Every Sunday for the past four years, I’ve been volunteering at Deborah’s Place, a women’s homeless shelter as a member of the DePaul Community Service Association. I have been the student leader for the program for the past three years. I organize and recruit all the volunteers and communicate with the shelter. This experience of running the program and helping the shelter prepare food has greatly aligned with the Vincentian Mission. My goal for participating in the World’s Big Sleep Out is to bring awareness to the issue of homelessness and how it is possible for everyone to play a small part in helping to solve this problem. 

Father Chris Robinson
The Rev. Christopher Robinson, C.M., joined the World's Big Sleep Out as an act of faith and solidarity. (DePaul University/Jeff Carrion)
The Rev. Christopher Robinson, C.M., adjunct instructor of religious studies 

The World’s Big Sleep Out has, “Vincentian” written all over it and reminds me of the values that brought me to the Vincentian community. I am a Vincentian priest and an adjunct instructor. I have also been a part of Catholic Campus Ministry, Student Affairs, and served four years as the pastor of Saint Vincent de Paul Parish. 

Homelessness can be lessened and even eliminated if we do what must be done. My experience at DePaul University over many years has taught me that a community of like-minded people can do small things with great love (to steal a phrase from Mother Teresa). The idea of thousands of people the world over willingly sharing the condition of the homeless, even for a single night, is the kind of action and solidarity that Saint Vincent de Paul and Saint Louise de Marillac would recognize. In other words, this action helps me continue to fine-tune my personal values and help me support others as they discover theirs. 

Georgianna Torres Reyes, associate vice president of Mission and Ministry, adjunct faculty member 

Sleeping out and helping to plan this event allows me to take direct action to live out Vincentian values in communion with others throughout the world. Participation in the Sleep Out is one of my answers to the Vincentian question. In my opinion, this must be done. 
Georgianna Torres Reyes
Terrell Brown of ABC7 Chicago, Georgianna Torres Reyes of DePaul University and Chuck Levesque of Depaul USA pose after an on-air interview about the World's Big Sleep Out. (DePaul University/Kristin Claes Mathews)

I am a Double Demon and have both an acting degree from The Theatre School and a Master of Arts in counseling and management. I’ve worked at DePaul for about 27 years. I have had the privilege of serving as an advocate for homeless and food insecure students, faculty and staff at DePaul over the years, and I view this event as an opportunity to contribute positively to ending homelessness on a global level. 

As we work together to plan the event, our goals are to lift up the narratives of those who face homelessness in our city and throughout the world. We want to raise awareness, shining a spotlight on the ways that one might become homeless and how to help. I feel so fortunate in that I work at an institution whose values mirror my own. I am very committed to providing access to all people but have a particular passion for serving those who are under-resourced or living on the margins of our society. 

To sign up for the World’s Big Sleep Out in Chicago, visit https://www.bigsleepout.com/join-a-sleep-out/chicago
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