By Matt Getts
ALBION — Organizers for most outdoor gatherings this time of year hope for mild weather.
But not David Roesener and Leshia Howell.
Noble County Ministries is hosting a special homelessness and hunger awareness event Friday on the Noble County Courthouse Square. Beginning at 4 p.m. Friday, people can register to spend the night — or just a few hours — sleeping in tents or other makeshift shelters to simulate what its like not to have adequate shelter.
A chili and bread supper will take place 6-7 p.m. with short program to follow. The event will conclude at approximately 8 a.m. Saturday with a short wrap-up session.
“Anybody can show up,” Roesener, the executive director of Noble House Ministries, said. “People can bring their own tents or shelters.”
The only special consideration is that stakes cannot be used to secure a shelter because of the sprinkler system on the Noble County Courthouse lawn.
The reason why Roesener and Howell talked about mild weather not being a good thing is because they want people to really know what it’s like to be homeless in November in northeastern Indiana.
“It’s important for it to be cold,” Roesener said.
Burn barrels are supposed to be available, and the street between the courthouse and the Noble County Prosecutor’s Office will be closed down so a tent and tables can be set up for the supper.
A portable toilet will also be on hand.
The week of Nov. 11-19 is Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, according to Roesener.
Howell, a nurse at Parkview Noble Hospital, has participated in a similar event to raise awareness.
“She was instrumental in getting this organized in Noble County,” Roesener said.
The event is open to anyone to attend or participate. People don’t need to stay overnight, the main purpose is to get people thinking about homelessness.
“Think about what we might be able to do to help,” Roesener said. “What are the next steps we need to take?”
Homelessness is a problem everywhere. Roesener recently attended a conference on the topic, and was told that at any given moment, there are 549,000 homeless people in this country.
There are no figures for Noble County specifically regarding homelessness, but Noble County’s two shelters — Noble House for women and Pilot House for men — are full, and have been for some time.
“We are at capacity at both places right now,” Roesener said.
Noble House can assist 14 women residents. The capacity at Pilot House is 10.
There are many causes of homelessness, Roesener said. These include mental health problems, addiction and economic situations such as losing a job.
He said a person he recently helped at a job, but when his wife became ill. The man had to stay home to care for her, and eventually lost his job.
Once the job was lost, so was the chance to make ends meet financially.
“The landlord subsequently evicted them,” Roesener said.
Pilot House programming eventually helped the man to get back on his feet.
With his two support centers at capacity, Roesener can still direct people to other shelters in the area.
It’s a familiar situation elsewhere.
“They struggle to find places for them to go,” Roesener said. “Where can these people go for support so they can reestablish themselves in the community. There is a need for that.”