The 355 Project: Homelessness among Shoreline Schools students

Friday, October 23, 2015

One pennant for each homeless school child in Shoreline Public Schools
Photo courtesy Ronald UMC

The Social Advocacy Committee of Ronald United Methodist Church has launched a community awareness campaign around homelessness among students in the Shoreline School District

The 355 Project takes its name from the number of students self-identified as homeless at the close of the 2014-15 school year. The number is likely much higher, as it doesn't include siblings too young to be in school, or students who are homeless but not identified.

The SAC has installed a display on the front lawn of the church at 17839 Aurora Ave N, Shoreline, that includes a banner which states "Did you know? There are 355 homeless students in the Shoreline School District," as well as more than 355 primary color pennants, many decorated with children's hand prints. The extra pennants acknowledge those students that remain unidentified.

"We chose hand prints and pennants as a theme because each one relates to a child that has no permanent, sustainable, safe home on a day to day basis," said Carla Roque, chair of the Ronald SAC.

The Ronald SAC installed the banners and signs on Aurora so the drivers of the many cars going by, bus passengers and pedestrians can be informed about this "very serious" issue, said Paula McCutcheon, pastor of RUMC.

The installation also was timed to coincide with the groundbreaking of Ronald Commons, a partnership between Compass Housing Alliance, Hopelink and RUMC, to build 60 units of affordable housing, a new 12K-square-foot service center for Hopelink and improved community space in the church.

"Affordable housing, particularly for families earning 30 percent to 50 percent of area median income, is crucial to ending homelessness among children and adults," McCutcheon said.

Flyers with information on The 355 Project are available (download here) to help those interested become informed on how to advocate, donate and volunteer at organizations working to help homeless youth and prevent homelessness in the youth population.

"The Homelessness Education Liaison for the school district, Pam Kinnaird, is in great need of food and grocery cards to help families meet emergency needs," said Pastor McCutcheon. "Very often, her office is the first point of contact for homeless families."

For information of the specific needs of students who are homeless, contact Kinnaird 206-393-3387. You can also make donations of grocery or gas cards or a financial donation to the the Homeless Liaison Office through Shoreline School District, Atten: Pam Kinnaird, 18560 1st Ave. NE, Shoreline, WA 98155.)

The 355 Project

The Ronald SAC is planning additional events to spotlight homelessness in the school district and in Shoreline. Future events will include speakers and short films.

"It's our hope other faith communities and civic organizations will become involved in this issue so that we may establish a community dialog to seek some concrete solutions," Roque said.

A representative of The 355 Project is available to make presentations to community groups and organizations.

For more information on The 355 Project, including additional flyers or to request a presentation, please email Phyllis Johnson.


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