The Community Action Program for Central Arkansas (CAPCA) is encouraging a more knowledgeable and compassionate approach to homelessness through a local challenge.
CAPCA’s Melissa Allen said the 30-day Change the World challenge started Wednesday and pushes the community to truly take a look at the things they take for granted.
Each day, she said, participants can follow a calendar that could have an article to read, facts about homelessness, a personal challenge and other awareness motivators to open everyone’s eyes to what people who are homeless go through daily.
Allen said there’s a negative stigma associated with the issue and she wants everyone to know that these people are humans.
"What I want people to realize is these are everyday people like you and I," she said.
Allen so there are so many circumstances out there that can occur that pushes a person into this type of unfortunate position and isn’t just limited to loss of job, drugs, domestic issues and more.
"There are so many things that we hear," she said.
Through the participating in the challenge, she said she hopes people come to be more aware of what is happening around them and the difficult situation these people are in.
"What the challenge is [there] to do is make you think and consider the life of a homeless person for 30 days," she said.
Allen said some days on the calendar are designed to advocate and raise awareness and others are to point out what a privilege it is to have the simplest of things like not just a roof to live under, but a running faucet with cold and hot water.
"We take for granted the little things," she said. "For 30 days this challenge has you focus on those types of things."
Allen said this is only the second year for the challenge.
"I know we had many people do it [last year] and I heard from a lot of the schools that the students … it really opened their eyes to what life was like for people who don’t have a home," she said.
Last year the challenge raised awareness, exactly what it was intended to do, and Allen said she knows it’s going to be great this year too.
She said overall, she hopes to reach someone that has not ever put themselves in a homeless person’s shoes and to make them see they’re more than someone standing on the side of the road.
"That’s what I really want to do," Allen said. "[I] just want to encourage everyone to get involved. Do what they can. If they can’t afford to give during the challenge, just participate in the challenge."
She said they also have purple ribbons to give out to open up the door for people to have conversations about homelessness as well and can be picked up from 8 a.m. to noon and 1-5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 707 Robins St. Suite 700.
Allen said the challenge — which is also being held to call attention to the Project Homeless Connect event they hold in January — will go until Nov. 30.
The calendar can be found at www.facebook.com/projecthomelessconnect.arkansas.