For many, Veteran’s Day was a day to honor all veterans of the armed forces, but for Tallahassee’s homeless, it was a day to remember their needs.
The Gamma Alpha Chapter of Gamma Sigma Sigma National Service Sorority Inc., held its fourth annual cookout for the homeless on Nov. 12. Over 200 homeless gathered at The Shelter of Leon County on Tennessee Street for a day of fellowship and fun.
“We started this project in fall 1999,” said member and alumna Kiosha Jones. “During that time, our IMPACT areas were the homeless and the needy.”
Each year, GSS focuses on different IMPACT (Individuals Making Progress Across Communities Together) areas, which are their targets for community service.
Even though this year’s IMPACT areas are diabetes and nutrition, the cookout for the homeless is still one of their favorite events.
Senior Hillery Kelly said the sorority will present the “Cookout for the Homeless” project to other chapters within their district for them to adopt.
“The purpose of the project is to bridge the gap between the community and the university,” said Kelly, a biology and chemistry student from Fort Lauderdale. “Unlike other groups that focus on helping the campus, we do not want to be isolated from what is going on in the community. The shelter is full with people who are in need.”
Since the homeless project is one of GSS’s biggest community events, it has become an annual service project on Veteran’s Day for the past four years.
“Cooking out for the homeless is one of my favorite projects,” said member Kristy Tillman, a senior business administration student from Tallahassee. “We need to face the problem, and we need to interact with the needy. It feels really good when people say ‘thank you so much for your help’,” she said.
Member Janele Bullard, a junior elementary education student from Tallahassee said people do not think about the homeless on Veteran’s Day.
“A lot of people are at home not concerned with those who do not have a home or food to eat,” she said.
Zelma Janice Gatlin, a resident of the shelter, said she is proud that Gamma Sigma Sigma held the cookout for the homeless.
“I appreciate what the young people are doing for us,” Gatlin said. “They are opening up people’s eyes and letting them know that there are people out here that are in need.
“A lot of people are in denial. So many people are concerned with the homeless overseas, but we have homeless and hungry people right here in our own backyard.”
Stacey Snell, a resident of
the shelter, said she thought it was kind of GSS to hold a barbeque for them on Veteran’s Day.
“I think it is good what these women are doing,” Snell said. “I just wish people would come around more often, and give people good advice.
“People should not stereotype us and think that we have issues. Some of us do not have issues. We are just going through problems right now. Some people do not have people to care for them either, so I like what these women have done to show that they care.”
Claude Kenneson, the shelter’s food coordinator and a member of the Good News Outreach Ministry, said he believes it is a wonderful thing that students help out in the community.
“I am glad to see young people are getting involved,” he said. “I’m getting older, and need someone younger to take over.”
Other volunteers that supported the project were Joe Bullard, the South Eastern Regional Director of Promotions for Sony Music, and The Upsilon Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
Other GSS community service projects for this year included the March of Dimes Walk America, America’s Walk for Diabetes, Gobble Wobble, Sleep out for the Homeless and Project 110. They have also assisted Habitat for Humanity, Smith Williams Community Center and Big Bend Cares.
Students who wish to volunteer at The Shelter should call 224-9055.