Group aims to help homeless

The student group Love For Lancaster experienced several changes from last semester, but it still wanted to strengthen the relationships that students had built with homeless community members on Lancaster Avenue.

According to OrgSync, the student outreach group for the homeless on Lancaster Avenue became an official student organization in late September.

Sophomore business major Jim Reed, the group’s president, said the group was looking to partner with The NET, an organization that wanted to build relationships that the shelter system could not provide — such as talking to the homeless and providing career initiatives — to further help the homeless on Lancaster.

“What that partnership would allow is for us to have more solid service and more service opportunities,” he said.

These opportunities would include helping homeless persons with job applications and networking, something that students took for granted, he said.

Reed said The NET already applied for nonprofit status but that he was unsure if it had been granted. Attempts to reach Melissa Ice, student ministry director at Christ Chapel and The NET’s leader, for comment were unsuccessful.

Reed said there was no known time frame for when the partnership with The NET would occur.

Although, wanting to work with a nonprofit was not the only way Love For Lancaster had changed, he said. The group currently goes to Lancaster Avenue three times a week and wants to go more often.

More people had joined the group as well, he said. Reed said that about 45 people went to Lancaster every week. And, according to the group’s Facebook page, there were more than 150 members of the group.

Sophomore social work major Meagan Reid said that this was up about 10 to 15 people since last semester.

Students involved in the group said they wanted to make the organization sustainable after the current leaders graduated.

Junior movement science major Christiana Kittelson said there was now a board of directors and the group was much more organized than it had been in the past.

Some of the other changes included getting a bus through a donation and creating a blog, she said. Reid said the group was in the process of getting all the necessary certifications for the bus.

“We do own the bus, but we have to red tape everything,” she said.

Reid said the central purpose and goal of Love For Lancaster was the same despite the changes to the organization’s structure: to talk to and to share experiences with the homeless on Lancaster Avenue.

She said she loved the group and called Wednesdays — the day when she goes to Lancaster — her “rejuvenation days.”

“It kind of rejuvenates my soul to see how different people fare in life,” she said.

Although she feels she has a positive impact on the people on Lancaster Avenue, Reid said the people have impacted her tremendously on a personal scale.

“I can’t get enough. I love it,” she said. “I want to go down [to Lancaster Avenue] all the time and see different people and just talk to different people because of all those bonds I’ve made.”

Marcus McFann, who said he has lived on Lancaster Avenue for almost eight months, said the group’s friendship helped change his life.

“Any time you have a friend, it’s going to change your life,” he said. “To have somebody that’s not from here, that actually wants to come out here because they want to, not because they’re passing through and their car broke down, it’s friendship. Genuine friendship.”