The annual Bonner and Bonner diversity lecturer, Evelyn Hill, spoke last Thursday about her work with homeless children in the Kansas City area, and how people could work together to make progress in ending homelessness. Hill is the community engagement director at Avenue of Life, according to emporia.edu.
“I thought it was really good,” said Kay Andrews, senior chemistry major. “I was glad that it pertained really closely to Kansas and it was something that a lot of students in our areas and people going to our university (are impacted by).”
Hill has worked on the Kansas City, Kansas, Board of Education for many years in the past, but currently works for Avenue of Life, an organization in Kansas City committed to helping low income families in need, she said.
Hill also presented “the transformational impact,” or the families reached, housed and employed with the Avenue of Life program. In the 2017-2018 school year data there were 268 families reached, 74 housed and 69 employed in the first semester, according to Hill.
“Well it sounds like that’s not very much, but what you don’t see is how many kids that is,” Hill said. “What if the 58 families housed had at least four kids? In many cases, the families do have between two and four, sometimes five kids, even more.”
During the lecture, Hill played video coverage discussing more information on her project on PBS news.
“Student homelessness is a widespread problem, nearly one in four school districts in the U.S. gets federal grant money to help provide services for homeless students,” said Lisa Stark, the PBS special correspondent in the video played at the lecture. “Over time the solution became clear, to help homeless students, they needed to help homeless families.”
This is where non-profits like Avenue of Life come in, according to Hill. Avenue of Life offers assistance including courses to teach about finances, housing and other similar topics.
“I think as we continue to work together, if we continue to focus on the kids and not on our adult issues,” Hill said. “We have a good opportunity to end homelessness in the KCK (Kansas City, Kansas) school district.”