Feb. 25, 2021
Seneca students brave the cold for homelessness
Initiatives raise money and awareness
When Kelly Frapporti-Tobin recently camped out in a tent in her backyard for two days, the sun was shining and her dog was playfully enjoying the adventure.
“But at 5 p.m., the sun goes down and the temperature drops considerably,” said the Honours Bachelor of Crime & Intelligence Analysis student. “It’s an awful feeling. It’s exhausting. You don’t sleep well when it’s -20 C.”
In an effort to help those who brave those conditions daily while living on the street, Ms. Frapporti-Tobin, a Hamilton native and private investigator, spent two nights sleeping outside to increase awareness about homelessness and raise more than $7,500 for the Men’s Street Ministry in Hamilton and Brantford.
“There’s a high rate of homelessness all around us,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking. People are suffering from mental health issues and drug addiction. We are also starting to see the effects of the pandemic. Some people are one paycheque away from being homeless, and it’s more difficult to detect those who are struggling while we are all stuck at home in our bubbles.”
Ms. Frapporti-Tobin was on social media when she saw a photo of two people trying to survive a cold night with only a tarp over them.
“That image stayed with me,” she said. “I wanted to do something impactful. It was a 24-hour decision.”
Despite some health issues, Ms. Frapporti-Tobin says she wanted the experience to be as close to the real thing as possible.
“I really was trying to simulate what it’s like to be outside all the time,” she said. “People are really moved and surprised that I did that because of my health issues. But homeless people have health issues, too, and they have no choice but to stay out on the street.”
Like Ms. Frapporti-Tobin, Kaitlin Campbell, a first-year student in the Police Foundations diploma program, wanted to spread awareness and raise money for those who don’t get to sleep inside.
Ms. Campbell organized a Seneca team for this year’s Coldest Night of the Year virtual walk in support of Newmarket’s Inn From The Cold. On Saturday, more than 30 Police Foundations students and faculty walked individually or in COVID-friendly team bubbles, raising more than $1,500.
“It’s nice to see that everyone is willing to step up and help others,” Ms. Campbell said. “It’s been really cold lately, and especially with COVID, we are aware of everything that’s going on, and we just all wanted to do something about it.”
Ms. Campbell says while they have been learning remotely, it has been great to communicate with her classmates virtually and to have that support system.
“Usually when you are in class, you end up in little groups,” she said. “Virtually, we are all one. There’s no division. We all communicate with each other. We help each other out.”
Instead of knocking on doors to collect pledges, something Ms. Campbell says she and her classmates might have done pre-COVID, they raised funds through social media with messages about the importance of support.
“We know it’s hard to make a contribution, so we made it clear that even if you are not able to donate, raising awareness is just as good,” she said. “Even if we only help one person in the end, that’s one less person who has to stay out in the cold.”