October 10, 2005
Mike Stepanovich, 661/654-2456, firstname.lastname@example.org,
or Jaclyn Loveless, 661/654-2138, email@example.com
A California State University, Bakersfield professor has teamed up with a local school district to fight child homelessness in Kern County.
Sociology professor Russell Travis has expanded his Homeless Quarters organization and created a new initiative called Quarters for Kids. The new program is set to launch its first project with the Greenfield School District’s after school program Oct. 17.
“It’s about children chipping in and chatting up,” Travis said. The new program provides lesson plans for elementary and middle schools to assist in raising children’s knowledge levels of homelessness and collecting donations to help local homeless children. “It’s all you could hope for,”
Ten schools within the Greenfield School District’s after-school program are participating in the two-week lesson, contest, and fundraiser. The first through eighth graders will partake in educational activities and boost the effort by either “Helping Others out of a Jam” or “Helping Others out of a Pickle,” using labeled mason jars to collect the donations. Travis said “The Jams” and “The Pickles” will face off against each other to see who can collect the most money in the jars to win the competition and help out local homeless children. The winning classes will receive a prize from their schools and each class will receive a certificate of appreciation from Quarters for Kids for their efforts.
The donated funds will be placed into an account and will be saved for local financial help requests made to the organization.
Travis’ daughter and former educator, Lori Travis, helped create the lesson plans in compliance with state standards and expectations.
The lessons include students learning the social needs of people in the community, and reading poems on homelessness. “These activities teach and help kids understand the homeless and open the desire of wanting to help,”
said Rosa Corona, site coordinator for Fairview Elementary School’s Success After School Program. “It’s an awesome way to teach our students about a serious issue happening in our country. We get to show them we can make a difference in people’s lives by doing our part.”
Corona added that her after-school tutors are excited for the opportunity to help out. “They’re also excited about the competition part; they’re a competitive group.”
Travis hopes the program will be a success and foresees other school districts getting involved. “You have to have a lot of patience. You can’t give up,” he said. “Once a school district makes it happen the rest will
Travis founded Homeless Quarters in 2002 as a means to raise funds to help the homeless and near homeless in Kern County. “A lot of these people are middle-class and have fallen through the cracks due to downsizing or lack of affordable housing,” he said. His Homeless Quarters Foundation has placed clear plastic containers shaped like houses, with the inscription, “United We Stand Against Homelessness in America,” in various Kern County businesses asking residents to deposit a spare quarter.
And it really does add up. “I did the math,” he said. “If one quarter of the population of Kern County placed one quarter a day for a year, it would add up to be almost $15 million.”
The organization has really taken off. Close to 150 businesses and offices throughout Bakersfield, including CSUB, now carry the donation containers.
Just last year it collected $10,000 and formed a board of directors. He plans to expand the Homeless Quarters project to include other areas including Fresno and San Luis Obispo by the beginning of the year.
For more information, please contact Travis at (661) 654-3159 or visit www.homelessquarters.org.