By Rachel Foy, junior music therapy major
I and a group of eight people, two of them being faculty and staff attended the Alternative Fall Break Trip to Knoxville, Tennessee to serve for an organization that helps homeless people. The facility there had so many resources for the homeless people and offered dental services, clothing, food, an apartment-style building for shelter and so much more. We helped fill up shampoo containers for the toiletry storage room, organize the clothing closet, serve food, make care bags for women during their menstrual cycle and set up shower trailers outside.
I think that the hardest thing we all had to do was the shower trailers. We were split up into two pairs where we all took turns going to help with the shower trailers. The area was located under a bridge in walking distance from the shelter, and the environment was awful. There was a whole community of homeless people on both sides under the bridge with the shower trailers in the center. It was freezing even with the heater, and it made me feel so guilty for those people who had no heat or shelter to go to. Not only that, but the noise from being under the bridge was extremely overstimulating.
I am a person diagnosed with autism and can be overstimulated by loud noises very easily, so I can’t imagine how difficult it is for homeless people diagnosed with autism to have to endure these kinds of environments every day. This also goes for all disabled homeless people who are on their own without a home or anyone to turn to. It is common for disabled people to be abandoned for who they are, along with some of them are unable to hold a job and be on their own. When I was there the entire trip, I hadn’t heard anything about how disabled people can be supported and it is something that should be brought up more.
This experience has overall been very eye-opening for me and it made me really empathize with the homeless community more, especially for those who are disabled. It makes me sad and disappointed how society treats them as non-human beings. It’s like the more money you have in society, the more human you are. Which is so wrong. If society would stop having that mindset, the world would be such a better place for homeless people.
Rachel Foy is a junior at SMWC majoring in music therapy. Since her freshman year, she has become very involved as a student leader at The Woods. Rachel is involved in Student Senate, Music Therapy Student Association, Chorale and Madrigals.