Even though people in La Crosse are working to find shelter for the homeless, the problem still exists.
Tonight, Viterbo students, who are taking a course on homelessness, will spend 12 hours outdoors on campus. It’s the 32nd annual Homelessness Vigil for Professor Tom Thibodeau’s students.
He started the one-night, sleep-out in the 1980s and says it helps those students develop empathy for those who struggle to find shelter.
“One night, to be out in the cold, is to build a level of compassion,” Thibodeau said. “How about those people who have no place to live?”
Beyond just having to experience the hardship, the professor says it will also help them understand as they enter their fields of study.
“Our students, who are going to graduate with degrees in nursing, are going to be working with patients that will sometimes have to discharge and that patient has no place to go and live,” Thibodeau said. “So they’ll experience that.”
Thibodeau noted students used to sleep big cardboard boxes but because recycling has made those boxes less available, he advises students to find other ways to shield themselves from cold during the night out.
After the sleep out, Thibodeau would like to see his students volunteer at the Salvation Army and also spend a night at the warming center in La Crosse.
Here’s Thibodeau’s 2017 Homelessness Vigil.