Juan Davila, Contributor
As winter conditions bring lower temperatures and the increasing likelihood of snow, inhabitants of the camp near Hiawatha are bracing themselves while the city of Minneapolis establishes a more permanent shelter.
In response to the situation, Augsburg students spent some time volunteering at the encampment. On Nov. 17, students spent their day in shifts, starting at 12 p.m. and a closing shift ending at 5 p.m. Augsburg students handed out supplies that consisted of hats, mittens, hand-warmers, clothing, heat sources, fuel and flashlights, and they served a meal that consisted of hot beans and hot dogs for the inhabitants of the camp struggling with homelessness.
The encampment near Hiawatha and Franklin Avenue has grown over the last several months as inhabitants seek warmth and security in a larger group. As a result the camp was increasingly in need of supplies, food and clothing.
Augsburg student In’am Al-hammouri facilitated the efforts to gather volunteers and find donations. Al-hammouri was able to organize both Saint Catherine’s and Augsburg students, including members of Augsburg’s men’s soccer team.
Student Body Vice President Eli Baker was among the group who volunteered and applauded Al-hammouri’s efforts. “Augsburg students worked together to serve our greater community. We were gathered and led by Augsburg student In’am Al-Hammouri,” said Baker. “Augsburg is rooted within our community, and we need to do our part in supporting that community. Al-Hammouri did a fantastic job pulling together resources and volunteers to make that possible.”
The camp has shed light on a number of issues facing the city of Minneapolis including the lack of affordable housing, the disparity in quality of life within the indigenous population and the city’s ability to facilitate a movement of the camp.
Volunteer Sam Gunnarson, also a member of Augsburg Day Student Government, commented, “This experience was a shock. It felt good to be able to help these people out. I know that the supplies we gave them really meant a lot to them to get through their day.” When asked what he took away from the experience Gunnarson continued, “It was fun serving the community. I had conversations with people, and they told me that they appreciate all the help but would like help getting back on their feet. That was pretty powerful.”
A shelter built with the cooperation and on the land of Red Lake Nation is being constructed, that will house 150 residents of the camp. According to a report by MPR, the city plans to close the camp once that shelter is constructed and residents have been relocated.
This article was originally published in the Nov. 30, 2018 issue.
Augsburg students pose for photo after serving food and providing blankets to residents of the Hiawatha Homeless camp on 11/17. Photo provided by In’am Al-Hammouri.