Students Connect With Homeless During “It’s On the House”
22 Nov 2013
Posted by Add Seymour Jr.
By ADD SEYMOUR JR. — Sophomore Malik Nickerson was walking down a downtown street recently when a homeless man came up to him.
Instead of getting scared or expecting to hear a plea for money, Nickerson smiled as the man said, “Hey, man! How are you? What’s going on?”
“I recognized him and he recognized me as someone I served at ‘It’s On the House’ last year,” said Nickerson, a political science major.
That’s exactly the kind of connection Nickerson and his co-directors of this year’s “It’s On the House” (sophomore Emanuel Russell and freshman Gregory Barber) hope the annual event continues to make between the Morehouse community and the homeless and those who are struggling in life.
“That’s the mission of the event – to make them understand that we aren’t different and we aren’t better than they are,” he said. “I came to realize that last year, even more so after talking to them. They just have extenuating circumstances, unfortunate events in their lives that put them in the predicament that they are in. I feel like once you can make that connection as students and as the homeless population, it will increase the welfare for everyone.”
Three years ago, Denarius Frazier ’13 and three of his friends started “It’s On the House” after they decided that they weren’t going home for the Thanksgiving holiday. Instead, they solicited donations for food and haircuts, canvassed the West End community to tell homeless individuals about the event and then hosted the affair in Archer Hall.
It’s been held every year since, with Nickerson, Russell and Barber taking over this year.
“Denarius brought us on board last year, taught us the ropes and then passed it down to us as he graduated,” Nickerson said.
“Being able to come in and be part of a phenomenal event where we sort of humanize people that many others sort of look past, it’s a great feeling,” Barber added.
On Nov. 20, more than 250 men, women and children turned out for free haircuts, personal hygiene packets, clothing and a traditional Thanksgiving meal in Archer Hall.
A DJ played old school R&B and new dance cuts as approximately 100 student and community volunteers served food and greeted people. There were lots of hugs and plenty of conversation between the students and those who came.
“Students doing this, I think it’s great,” said Eric Ford, a New York City native who has been living around the AUC area for seven years.
“I should be helping them, but here they are helping me,” he said. “When they do things like this, it’s important to people here. It’s a compliment to the students and the school. It’s the most beautiful thing to me.”