[Hpn] Student MARCH for Housing Justice helps Catholic Worker Hospitality House raise funds fwd Hospitality House raise funds fwd

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Mon, 11 Dec 2000 08:45:16 -0800 (PST)


FWD  San Francisco Chronicle - Sunday, December 10, 2000 - Page A24

     9.5-MILE TREK FOR HOMELESS

     STUDENTS WALK TO RAISE AWARENESS, FUNDS FOR SHELTER

     Julie N. Lynem, Chronicle Staff Writer

In between serving hot meals at the Catholic Worker Hospitality House in
San Bruno, Notre Dame High School senior Charlotte Enders said she and her
friends have learned a valuable lesson about homelessness -- it doesn't
discriminate.

The elderly stand in line for food right beside the young. Working mothers
wait for shelter along with unemployed fathers.

As teenagers on the Peninsula, where affordable housing is scarce, they
lament that the homeless are being overlooked. But yesterday, Enders, 17, and
about 300 other youths from three Catholic high schools on the Peninsula
showed the community that homelessness cannot be ignored.

"People are so busy that they don't have time to look around them and see
those that are less fortunate than they are," said Enders, who participated in
the second annual "Walk for Justice."

Students from Notre Dame in Belmont, Serra High School in San Mateo and
Burlingame's Mercy High School set out on a 9.5-mile trek down El Camino Real
to raise money for the Hospitality House, a shelter and dining room service
that operates out of St. Bruno's Catholic Church.

The youths were responsible for bringing in pledges of $35 or more.
Students raised more than $7,000 to support the Hospitality House, about $3,
000 more than last year.

Waving a white "Walk for Justice" banner, the students headed toward the
San Bruno church, singing, chanting J-U-S-T-I-C-E and debating the issue of
homelessness along the way.

"I like how all of the schools get together for a good cause," said Neven
Samara, a 16-year-old Serra High School student. "A lot of kids don't pay
attention to it (homelessness)."

Notre Dame senior Nidhi Nayyer, who videotaped the event for her school's
television show, said the walk succeeded in making a big statement.

Several cars honked, and more than a few drivers stopped to ask why the
students were marching, she said.

"A lot of people have misconceptions about homeless people," Nayyer said.
"They think that it's something that people bring on themselves. They think
that they're not hard-working or they got tangled into the wrong stuff. But it
could be sickness, mental illness, or because people just don't have enough
income. This (the walk) is so effective because it makes people aware."

Kate Chatfield, who runs the nonprofit Hospitality House with her husband,
Peter Stiehler, said the students' energy was "inspiring." The couple started
the dining room about five years ago and opened the shelter on parish grounds
in 1998.

The dining room serves hot meals four days a week to 60 to 70 people each
day. After mealtime, the small dining room area turns into a shelter, where
the homeless can sleep on cots for the night. There's also a shower on the
premises and a nurse to care for the sick once a week.

"The people that we serve live in the shadow of affluence," Chatfield said.
"The less you have, the less you will have in this economy"

Stiehler said he came up with the idea for a student walk after talking it
over with the campus ministries at the three high schools. Students volunteer
at the shelter throughout the year, and he thought it would be a good way to
raise money and get the youths more involved.

Hospitality House does not seek government funding, relying instead on
donations from private individuals and foundations. Next year, Stiehler and
Chatfield plan to turn their San Bruno home into affordable housing units for
women and children.

The couple and their two daughters hope to move into a smaller home in
Brisbane by June.

Yesterday, however, Stiehler's mind was on the students and the long trek
they had just completed for charity.

"Your hard work and sacrifice will continue to help this little building be
a place of sanctuary for the outcasts of society," he said.

EDN FORWARD

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