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BU should help build, run homeless shelter

Feb. 1, 2001

The city of Waco currently does not operate a homeless shelter. But given the emphasis Baylor places on community service, and its students' willingness to serve, we believe Baylor and Waco should join together to build a homeless shelter near the Baylor community.

There are two private organizations, The Salvation Army and Compassion Ministries, which offer shelter services during the overnight hours and for a limited number of days. But these small organizations are limited in their resources and capabilities. Many Waco citizens are left stranded on the streets, especially around Baylor, with nowhere to go, nothing to eat and no money to get help. And Baylor, as a Christian university, should do something to help them.

With the resources of Baylor, the eagerness of students to participate in community service and the organizational structure and capabilities of the city government, the homeless people around Baylor and throughout the city could have a reliable and safe place to stay and eat until they get back on their feet.

Not only could Baylor students help with the day-to-day operations of the shelter, but they could also help plan and construct it. Students and faculty in the business school could help determine the budget and financial dealings of the shelter. Sociology and psychology students and faculty could help out with the counseling procedures, and so on. Similar to Habitat for Humanity projects and Steppin' Out, students could also work with city officials in construction of the building, from the ground up. There is virtually no academic department or organization at Baylor that could not, in some way, participate in the planning and daily operations of the effort.

It should touch our hearts every time we see homeless people standing on the street corner asking for food or money, or every time we see them huddled together trying to stay warm under the overpasses across from campus. We can do something about it and we should, as a way of giving back to the community.

Working with Waco to build a homeless shelter would benefit the city of Waco and would provide great charity and learning opportunities for students as well.