November 16th through the 24th is National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. In Freeport, one man is trying to do his part to help some of the Stateline’s most vulnerable by taking a walk in their shoes.
Dean Wright is the executive director of the Freeport Area Church Cooperative, or F-A-C-C. The non-profit operates the Chicago Avenue Mission, a homeless shelter in Freeport.
“Every year, we serve about ninety to one hundred unduplicated guests,” Wright says. “Adults that come to us that have no place to stay.”
In order to raise money for the mission, Wright is taking to the streets of downtown Freeport. He set up a makeshift homeless came where he will be from 4pm until 10om every day during National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. But there’s more.
“Part of the event is that over those 9 days, I myself have volunteered to be homeless,” Wright says.
That means he is prepared to sleep in the camp until he meets his goal of raising $15,000 for the mission, or more than $1,500 per day.
“For every goal that we meet, on every day that we meet, that’ll be one less day that I’m staying outside, but will be staying in the Chicago Avenue Mission homeless shelter with the other clients that are there currently,” Wright says.
If he meets his goal, it would mean 1,200 nights of shelter for guests at the mission.
“It’s imperative that we keep our shelter open,” Wright says. “It’s imperative that we have a warm and safe place for the homeless to go.”
One of Wright’s goals is to let people know homelessness does exist in Freeport. He knows first-hand, because the mission stays busy.
“With our mission, we have a variety of individuals that need shelter. We have people that are just there, very transient, there for a few days,” Wright says.”We have other individuals who are chronically homeless, that have mental illnesses and other disabilities that make it difficult for them to attain and maintain permanent housing. They might be with us the entire winter.”
If you would like to donate to the Chicago Avenue Mission, you can stop by Wright’s camp any night until the 24th. You can also donate at the F-A-C-C Facebook page.