Youth, group teams up with college fraternity for homelessness awareness

Members of the Sigma Beta Club prepare for the 12-hour Sleep-Out for the Homeless on the campus of Winston-Salem State University Nov. 16.

Youth, group teams up with college fraternity for homelessness awareness
November 29
00:15 2018

Visiting a college campus recently seemed different for members of the Sigma Beta Club (youth male auxiliary group of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity). On Friday evening, Nov. 16, members of the Sigma Beta Club participated with the Delta Alpha Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. during their 22nd annual Sleep-Out for the Homeless at the clock tower of Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) from 6 p.m. until 6 a.m. 

The purpose of the event was to raise awareness on poverty and homelessness in the triad community. The two organizations braved the elements of sleeping outside to bring a sense of solidarity, sensitivity and awareness to the plight of those less fortunate.

During the 12-hour event, donations of clothing items, non-perishable food, and monetary donations were collected.  These items will be donated to organizations such as the Winston-Salem Rescue Mission, the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina, and the Samaritan Ministries.

The Delta Alpha Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma introduced this program to the WSSU campus in 1996 as part of its Social Action Program. For the last 22 years, on the Friday before Thanksgiving, fraternity members have slept in cardboard boxes, sleeping bags, tents, etc. in an effort to raise awareness about the issue of homelessness.

Originally starting off as a one-day event, the Sleep-Out for the Homeless has blossomed into a week filled with different activities meant to address the concerns of the homeless in the area. Activities held throughout the night were a reflection session discussing the sleep-outs of the past and a Candlelight Vigil, where the participants were given the opportunity to express what they are thankful for as they approach the holiday season.

Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity was founded at Howard University in Washington, D.C., on January 9, 1914, by three young African-American male students. The Founders, Honorable A. Langston Taylor, Honorable Leonard F. Morse, and Honorable Charles I. Brown, wanted to organize a Greek letter fraternity that would truly exemplify the ideals of brotherhood, scholarship, and service. Phi Beta Sigma has blossomed into an international organization of leaders. No longer a single entity, members of the fraternity have been instrumental in the establishment of the Phi Beta Sigma National Foundation, the Phi Beta Sigma Federal Credit Union, and The Sigma Beta Club Foundation.

The Sigma Beta Club has been the centerpiece of Phi Beta Sigma’s programmatic focus since the early 1950s.  Participants learn the importance of serving others and establishing lifelong friendships, as well as the enhancement of meaningful educational and professional opportunities.

At the conclusion of the sleep-out on Saturday morning, 14 boxes of clothing were donated to the Winston-Salem Rescue Mission, 1,309 pounds of non-perishable food items were collected for the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina, 1 box of school supplies was donated to Project HOPE of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, and a check in the amount of $1,000 will be presented to the Samaritan Ministries Annual Penny Campaign on December 1. Franklin Allen, chapter president, stated, “The chapter came up with a goal of $1,250 in recognition of the university’s 125 years of existence.”

Duane Hackney, fraternity member and WSSU alumni, summed up the sleep-out by saying, “The Sleep-Out isn’t about providing a taste of what it’s like to be homeless. One night without proper shelter, no matter how cold or wet, can’t replicate the distressing experience of having no place to live. It’s a real humbling experience.”

The fraternity would like to thank those that contributed to the canned food drive: Forsyth Tech Mazie Woodruff Center students and staff, the Carl Russell Community Center for their donations from their annual Bingo for Turkeys event, and the Winston-Salem State University Family.

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