Jamie Evans, YWCA Director of Victims Services, recently visited Lincolnview Elementary School to read a book to 5th and 6th graders about homelessness and discuss with students how the topic of relates in the Van Wert Community. (Photo submitted)
Jamie Evans, YWCA Director of Victims Services, recently visited Lincolnview Elementary School to read a book to 5th and 6th graders about homelessness and discuss with students how the topic of relates in the Van Wert Community. (Photo submitted)

VAN WERT – November is Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Month and the YWCA of Van Wert County recently partnered with local elementary schools to discuss the issue of homelessness in our region.

YWCA staffers visited students at Crestview, Lincolnview, and Van Wert Elementary Schools and St. Mary’s Parochial school to read a book entitled “The Lady in the Box.” This fictional story by Ann McGovern portrays the generosity of two siblings who show empathy and kindness to Dorrie, an individual experiencing homelessness in their neighborhood. The book uniquely and age-appropriately discusses the plight of Dorrie and how even the slightest bit of kindness and help will make a difference.

Jamie Evans (Director of Victim Services) and Julie Schaufelberger (Outreach Coordinator) visited fifth and sixth-grade classrooms at Lincolnview while Jodi Brummette (Court Advocate) met with fifth-graders at Van Wert Elementary School. Schaufelberger also visited fourth-graders at Crestview Elementary and fourth through sixth at St. Marys. Guidance counselors and educators at each school helped facilitate activities and discussion surrounding the book. School representatives included Angie Murphy and Mark Collins (VWES), Katelyn Short (Crestview), Tonia Verville (Lincolnview) and Dustin Hessling, Megan Fritz, and Dan Metzger (St. Mary’s).

“Overall, we were impressed by the discussion we were able to have with students of this age regarding homelessness in our area, what the causes of homelessness could be and how we as a community can help,” Schaufelberger stated. “We busted some myths as well as discussed some truths surrounding this topic.”

Each school used the experience differently depending on how this event could meet curriculum standards for a particular grade level. Some schools used it to not only bring to light the social issue of homelessness, but also used it as a character-building lesson in empathy, kindness, gratefulness and giving.

“Fourth graders from Crestview are conducting a stuffed animal drive and writing letters for youth residents at the YWCA to give them support and to give something to make them feel comforted while living in a communal setting,” said Schaufelberger.

“We have terrific partnerships with area schools and appreciate their willingness to allow the YWCA to share our mission. The youth of our community will be the voice of change and we were impressed by their ability to understand that homelessness is an issue in Van Wert County,” said Evans. “Even at their young age, they can impact change and create awareness.”

The YWCA is partially funded by the Van Wert County Foundation and is a United Way Agency.