Posted by Jesse Shayne
The Skidmore News sat down with Anna Graves '14 to talk about tomorrow's Sleep Out event at Congress Park, which she helped organize.
Q: What is the name of the event?
Anna: It's called Saratoga Sleep Out, which is working with Captain Youth and Family Services, Shelters of Saratoga, and Code Blue; it's all of those groups getting together to bring awareness of the homeless population.
The Sleep Out is going to be going from 1 p.m. on Saturday. The sleep out part starts around 8 or 9 p.m. People will get together to hang out and sleep out. The next morning they will be feeding people. It's a big community event.
On April 17 there's a fundraiser for the program. The reason we did the Sleep Out before is to bring homeless people in to talk about their experiences.
Q: What was your involvement with the event?
Anna: So Captain's whole thing is to bring awareness. I was like 'why aren't we sleeping out?' People do it. The National Homeless Coalition in D.C. does it all the time, and they'll sleep out for four days at a time. People come out and freak out because they do it in the middle of winter.
I was like 'well why aren't we just doing this? It's not that hard.' Sadly, because we weren't going to do it in the bitter cold no one is particularly interested because it's such a busy time for Skidmore kids. But community-wise it's a huge deal.
We had to get permits from the City, and the City and the government have been very supportive of this kind of awareness.
Q: So you're trying to promote awareness of the issues around homelessness in Saratoga? Or across the U.S.?
Anna: We're only thinking about Saratoga County. The definition of homelessness isn't just living in the street, but having an unstable home. That's why a lot of these youths are qualified as homeless but they just don't have a supportive home or are being abused or have some issues at home. This is in order to bring awareness to that larger issue. Also, the majority of the backs of hotels in Saratoga are just like homeless shelters. We're not just putting people in Saratoga shelters. They're sleeping in the places that we're sleeping too because we don't have anywhere to house them.
A big piece of it is that Saratoga is a tourist town, and for us to have such a large homeless population is a problem. That's why the event is at Congress Park, because that's where people walk around. That's a big part of our city.
Q: Can you tell me more about the groups that are sponsoring the event?
Anna: Shelters of Saratoga has really strict rules. Captain Youth and Family Services only have like eight beds, and the people who go there have to be under 21. Code Blue only operates when it's 10 degrees or less outside. When they went to the Mayor and City Council, City Council was like 'we don't have enough homeless people to fill Code Blue if we build this.' They have thirty beds and it's been overflowing every night that it's been 10 degrees or less. There's a huge population of people that need them, and people have just been pretending that the problem doesn't exist.
Q: Can you tell me more about the fundraiser?
Anna: It's on April 17 [at Punam Den]. Doors are 7:30 p.m.. North & South Dakotas and Queen Ambrosia are playing. It's just a way to bring money to all three of those groups because they're all really underfunded. Code Blue is running fully on donations. It's kind of been taken over by a church. They're trying to be a separate organization. It's a big event for people to know who's who and talk about the issue.