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Service Learning

Poverty Initiative Holds Panel Discussion at Warren Wilson on Homelessness in the Asheville Area

by Samantha Capps, copy editor

The Poverty Initiative of Union Theological Seminary in New York held a panel discussion at Warren Wilson College on Oct. 31. Mitchell Watson, a friend of and donor to the college, serves on the board at the seminary and assisted in creating this panel, as well as making other stops on the Poverty Initiative’s recent tour of Asheville.

The Poverty Initiative was founded in May 2003 by Willie Baptist, who was once homeless and now has 40 years of experience as an activist for homelessness. The Initiative aims to end poverty by uniting religious organizations, colleges, universities, and all other communities with an interest in the poverty issue.

Baptist, Coordinator of the Poverty Initiative Liz Theoharis, and Union Theological Seminary student Onleilove Alston represented the Initiative at Monday’s panel. Also present were Coordinator of the Asheville Homeless Initiative Amy Sawyer and Warren Wilson Sociology and Women’s Studies professor Laura Vance.

“It’s not [the homeless’s] problem,” said Baptist at the panel discussion. “It’s going to get solved by us claiming it as our own and figuring out what we can do in Swannanoa and what we can do in Asheville, all around, city by city.”

The Affordable Housing and Homelessness Issue Area Group, part of the Service Learning Office, and the Advancement Office facilitated the on-campus panel. “Our [the Issue Area Group’s] goal is to provide not only direct service opportunities related to homelessness and housing, but also a series of educational sessions about the issue,” said Madeline Wadley, a senior who works in the SLO, by e-mail. Students interested in poverty and homelessness service opportunities should contact Wadley or stop by the SLO.

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