University of Southern Indiana

Symposium to raise awareness of homeless issues

Symposium to raise awareness of homeless issues

2/27/2013 | University Communications

An average of 450 individuals spend the night in shelters or transition housing in Evansville – more than a third are under the age of 18. In March, the University of Southern Indiana is holding a symposium to raise awareness of homelessness in the community.

The Homeless Symposium will take place from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Thursday, March 7, in the University Center’s Carter Hall. The event is free and open to students and faculty members in USI’s education, social work, nursing and health professions, and medical programs. Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke will deliver the welcoming address.

The symposium will educate future and current professionals about the complex social and health issues faced by homeless families. Formal education often doesn’t address these situations, and many graduates don’t expect to encounter homeless individuals, said Julie St. Clair, clinical assistant professor of nursing. “You can’t do anything about it if you don’t know it’s an issue,” she said. “Educating about homelessness is often a missed opportunity. We really need to focus on a more holistic approach.”

Raising awareness is a goal of Destination: Home, a community-wide 10-year plan to end homelessness in Evansville. The plan, launched in 2004, hopes to prevent homelessness and develop solutions to issues specific to homeless individuals. Luzada Hayes, resource coordinator for Destination: Home, will give an overview of the plan to symposium attendees. Hayes is the executive director of Aurora, Evansville’s homeless advocacy organization.

Housing, social issues, healthcare, and educational issues will be topics of the symposium. Speakers will include Mindy Niehaus, discharge planning coordinator for Aurora; Wyeth Hatfield, director of social work/outreach at ECHO Community Health Care; Dr. Thomas Stratton, physician at ECHO Community Health Care’s Woodson Homeless Health Clinic; and Bettye Poole, homeless student liaison for the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation.

The symposium also will include facilitated discussion with formerly homeless individuals on how they moved beyond homelessness.

For more information, contact Julie St. Clair by email at or by phone at 812/465-1169.

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