X-Out Homelessness RVA: Capstone Project
Taylor Gibson and Elon Hairston knew they wanted their Capstone to involve giving back to others often overlooked, and have an initiative that would also influence the community to want to get involved in their issue. Because of this the duo decided to focus their attention on the prevalence of the homeless community of Richmond and the importance of community support through their Capstone: X-Out Homelessness RVA. X-Out Homelessness RVA was a two phase Capstone consisting of both a youth Volunteer Day on November 10, 2018 followed by an informational conference that took place on February 2, 2019. During the first phase, their Volunteer Day, Elon and Taylor organized a group of high schoolers in the Chesterfield area from 6 high schools in the county. The group volunteered with HomeAgain, a rehabilitation housing organization for individuals as well as families who have or are currently experiencing homelessness and need assistance getting back into a permanent home. The group got to clean the emergency shelter of HomeAgain followed by a tour of the facility and received information on the organization and how they can get involved. In addition, prior to this Taylor and Elon held a housing supply drive at JRHS where they asked for common but not always thought of donations of pillows, washcloths, twin sheets, towels, and pillow cases. They donated over 200 items to HomeAgain at the end of the donation drive.
The second phase of X-Out Homelessness RVA included an informational community
conference at the North Courthouse Library. At this conference Elon and Taylor hosted several speakers and provided information for the community to hear about the importance of community support when dealing with the prevalence of homelessness. During the conference they had speakers from HomeAgain and Change the World RVA, which is another nonprofit organization in Richmond that focuses on helping students in the Richmond area who are experiencing or experienced homelessness. Guests were able to hear from these two organizations and learn what their goals are as well as take home information from them. Followed by the organizations' speakers and questions, Taylor and Elon also hosted a guest speaker from Virginia State University who had past struggles and a first person perspective of experiencing homelessness in Richmond. He talked about his struggles being homeless as well as being a student at the same time, and discussed the consequences of this tribulation such as mental health issues.
Taylor and Elon are very happy with the overwhelming community support as a result of X-Out Homelessness RVA. In addition to hoping their donations and time spent volunteering make a first hand difference, they also have hope the information given to the community can be used to inspire a community connected in helping each other.