Third Annual Sleep Out to End Youth Homelessness a Success

A Message from Stacey Johnson, President, East and Winter Park Campuses

Bringing awareness to youth homelessness in our region was the focus of the third annual Sleep Out event, which was held on Thursday, February 28, 2019. This year, nearly 100 Valencia College students and staff participated in the program, with 59 brave students staying the night outside in the mall area, demonstrating to their community that homeless youth are not alone. In partnership with the Covenant House of Central Florida, this event was hosted by the student club Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), Student Government Association and Learning Support.

The primary objectives for this year’s event were to bring awareness of the great needs homeless youth in our community encounter, raise funds to support the enhancement of the General Education Development (GED) program at Covenant House and to educate the college community on the services offered and efforts being made in Orlando to help combat the growing homeless youth crisis. In addition to these objectives, this year’s event included guest speakers, a silent auction, homeless youth sharing their stories and students sleeping outside for the night. The following morning, students participated in a reflection, which was facilitated by the Director of the Peace and Justice Institute Rachel Allen.

Students who participated in the experience noted that it was eye-opening and a lot tougher than they initially thought it would be; this event helped put the struggle of homelessness into perspective. The students also felt incredibly humbled and inspired to do more for the homeless community.

Administrative Assistant of Learning Support Stacy Ramos shared that Learning Support endeavors to bring together resources to help all students reach their educational goals, as students who experience homelessness face many challenges. Stacy provided administrative support to this event and enjoys helping to remove barriers for students and connect them to the right resources.

“Working with our PTK students on this effort has granted me the opportunity to serve as a mentor to these students, while providing support to students in need, both of which has been rewarding and humbling,” Stacy explained.

City of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer’s Office, Covenant House and Valencia College are working together through the Continuum of Care Youth Committee to develop a strategic system of support to ensure homeless youth have access to higher education and to stem the rising tide of youth homelessness.

A very special thanks Stacy Ramos, as well as Staff Assistant II of Learning Support Angelica Munoz, Dean of Learning Support Leonard Bass, Program Advisor Coordinator Marizayda Torres, Evening and Weekend Manager Zachary Hawk and Security Field Supervisor Jon DiBiase for their dedication in making this event successful. In addition, the Custodial and Plant Operations teams on East Campus are to be commended for their efforts and help at this event.

For more information on how to get involved in the work of supporting homeless students at Valencia College and in our community, please contact Stacy at  sramos14@valenciacollege.edu or 407-582-5000, extension 2823.

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