Second-year student Alex Tingquist spoke about homelessness to fourth-grade students at Booker Arts Magnet Elementary School in Little Rock on Friday.
“I spoke to the class and told them about my experiences, working with people who are experiencing homeless and about the Clinton School,” Tingquist said. “I asked them what they thought public service was and what they thought might be helpful for someone sleeping outside in the cold.”
Tinguist has been involved with homeless services for nearly a decade. As an AmeriCorps member, he worked as a VISTA at Our House, a transitional housing program that provides a pathway out of homelessness for individuals and families. He spent the summer of 2019 assisting the European Federation of National Organizations working with the Homeless (FEANTSA) in Brussels, Belgium, the only European NGO focusing exclusively on the fight against homelessness.
For his final Capstone project, Tingquist is doing a feasibility study with Jericho Way and St. Edward Catholic Church about transforming a former convent on the St. Edward campus into housing for college students experiencing homelessness.
Over his hour-long talk, Tinquist told fourth-graders about ways they can help people experiencing homelessness and asked them about the different ways they have helped in the past.
“That was probably the coolest thing for me,” Tingquist said. “Listening to their stories of being at a restaurant with their parents and how they saw someone outside and brought them food. Or seeing someone with a sign on the corner and giving them food or water. They had so many stories that we ran out of time.”
The Booker Elementary students are collecting items – winter clothing and hygiene products – and making blankets to donate to Jericho Way Day Resource Center.
The students will also write Christmas cards to be included with their donated items.
“They had so many questions about how they could help,” Tingquist said. “They were very motivated and eager to help people. It was awesome.”
If you would like to donate winter items or hygiene products, or find other ways you can help those experiencing homelessness, visit the Jericho Way webpage or call 501-916-9859.
“My main point, besides giving what you can, was that we’re all human and want to be acknowledged and loved,” Tingqust said. “If you don’t have anything to give, to make eye contact and smile, make people feel heard and seen.”
The Clinton School Speaker Series not only enhances the education of Clinton School students, but also provides a venue for the public to engage in intellectual discussions on the issues of the day.