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Student Organizes Event on Homelessness

Sophomore Lilly Oslin’s father is a treasurer of a homeless shelter in her hometown in Massachusetts, inspiring Lilly to do her part. And when vision meets opportunity, good things can happen.  

On Monday, February 19, Lilly led an event at the Norton Family Center for the Common Good in which a man named Ralph came to talk about homelessness through the Faces of Homelessness Speakers Bureau of the Hands on Hartford organization. 

“I wanted to help break the stigma of homelessness,” Lilly said in an interview after the event. 

There’s a face — and a story — behind why someone is homeless. Those attending saw Ralph’s face and heard his story. As Lilly relates the story, Ralph once had a job, a steady income, but he was in an automobile accident, the pain leading to drug addiction. 

“Why someone is homeless can stem from so many things,” Lilly said. She noted the increasing cost of rent now becoming more of a factor. She also questioned the negative assumptions that are made about people who are struggling with drugs or homelessness. Why assume they are bad people when you do not know them, she wondered. 

“Ralph also talked about how a lot of people who are homeless will purposely get in trouble with the law, commit crimes, so they have three meals a day, a bed to sleep in, a place to keep warm,” Lilly said. 

Lilly Oslin

“Why someone is homeless can stem from so many things,” sophomore Lilly Oslin said.

As Lilly said, much can be done. Every community needs volunteers. 

Lilly organized Ralph’s visit with help from the Norton Center, where Lilly is part of the Student Community Committee, and the Hands on Harford organization. 

Hands on Hartford, founded in 1969, is “supported by congregations from many different religions and denominations, civic organizations, government, corporate and foundation grants, individual donations and more than 1,200 dedicated volunteers each year,” according to its website. 

A CT Mirror story based on the 2023 Annual Point-in-Time Count, a government-required annual survey, showed that there were 3,015 people experiencing homelessness in January 2023 compared to 2,930 in January 2022. 

Lilly said the experience of organizing the Norton Center event “helps build leadership at a young age. We are given so many of these resources at Loomis, and using them well to create a positive impact is important. I hope to use these skills throughout my entire life and want to continue to help. My fellow peers are great leaders and that allows you to learn from them, too. And Ms. [Lillian] Corman [associate director of the North Center] led me through this and was such a great resource.” 

Lilly said Loomis has given her “the perspective of many voices” and the opportunity to get to know students from various backgrounds, all of which helped her when organizing the event. She said she recognized that some might not understand the homelessness issue. “They have never been in that place — of course neither have I — but I have had an awareness of the issue,” she said. 

And an awareness of the issue was in part what the event was all about. 


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