It took me 22 years to finish my undergraduate degree. In those years I suffered not one but two abusive husbands, whom I divorced, I spent over a decade with no insurance while also having diabetes, I worked so many jobs I can't even remember them all just trying to find something that fit me and my health challenges, I had a child as a single parent, I remarried, I watched my health steadily decline, I survived 3 heart attacks and recently left a 12 year career with a company I'd built my professional life around and in the last few weeks have seen my health decline in really horrific ways... I am still planning to continue working on my Master's Degree because YES, completing this degree means just that much too me. I have very little cash but the story of Ramone Williams hit me so very hard. A senior at Eastern Michigan University, he had been homeless since September. He worked 2 jobs, while maintaining a 3.4 GPA and lived in a van the entire fall, sleeping in the school's library as the weather turned colder. He did not blame anyone, he did not make excuses, his financial aid only covered a portion of his tuition and he was no longer eligible for certain free federal aid monies (Federal Aid only covers a student for so many semesters, that includes both community [2 year Associate Degree programs] and upper level university [Bachelor Degree programs] before a student has to either take out loans or pay out of pocket). He kept going to school. He is determined finish, no matter that he showers at the schools rec center and pays .25 cents for hot water so he can have tea in the morning. He scrimps in ways I cannot even imagine all for his degree because he knows it will get him farther than anywhere he is now. The following story was printed in The Bridge- a private news source for Michigan state residents, it's mission is simple but powerful "To better inform Michigan’s private citizens so as to encourage a vibrant state in both the private and public sectors" I am in awe of this online magazine for what they do and what they did for Ramone. In publishing his story, they raised awareness of not only his plight but the plight of other college students. Yes, there are tens of thousands of HOMELESS college students and their options are limited. Federal aid does not think much of homeless students and colleges especially the small to medium sized colleges have trouble helping those homeless students. School resources for these students are so limited. Read this article it talks about Ramone, his courage, his tenacity, his strength to keep moving forward. Yes, a fund was set up for him after publication of this article. He is no longer homeless and asked that donations STOP being sent to HIM and be sent to MAGIC. The MAGIC program at EMU does not have enough funds to really help homeless students although it tries and they unfortunately are bound by certain restrictions in helping, however, they are in desperate need of funding and if you are going to donate to anything this year, DONATE TO THEM. Read Ramone's story, it brought me to tears. And then look at the comments section and the link for Eastern Michigan's University's MAGIC program and think about giving directly to them. If you don't want to help this school then look into your communities colleges, do they have a program to help homeless students? Could you give time or money there? I cannot imagine what this country could do if they actually listened to what is going on around them. The GO FUND ME account set up for Ramone raised $25,000 in less than a month and he requested that further money be sent to MAGIC and now the MAGIC program has over $40,000 in donations. Money that will be used to help EMU's homeless students finish their education while also sleeping in a warm bed at night. AGAIN, if you just don't feel right helping a school with no connection to yourself, see what your Alma mater needs, research their programs, what funding they actually receive, where they are lacking or what smaller campuses of your main university may need. EMU is especially interesting because it's small and doesn't receive larger funds like Michigan State University or University of Michigan does and even those larger funded schools still have trouble helping those truly in need. Although it took me 22 years I am look at my college experience as the one dream I had, the one goal that I could accomplish and without that dream I'm not sure what I would have become... now I'm a graduate student and although some days I can barely get out of bed I keep fighting through it. I wish I could tell Ramone Williams just how amazing he is but from what I've read, there are people from all over the country telling him that.... take a moment... read about someone giving up everything and going for his dream. Think about your dreams and your life...where have you been? What have you done? Did you have help from others? Was is the hardest damn thing you ever did? Were you afraid to ask for help? Did you need too? Was it easy? Can you spare a few dollars for those that just aren't where you are? Can you give ten bucks to give these students a meal, help pay for their books, maybe get them clothing or a blanket?
How else could you help them? Or is there another group you could offer assistance too? Is there an are of your life where you could spare some of your money, time, wisdom so others can go to bed like you will be tonight?
I am currently unemployed, I am not receiving any type of financial help from the government, I am living on a very crafted plan right now that gives us shelter, medicine and food and will continue to do so for awhile. Long terms my choices are limited but I'll cross that bridge AFTER I finish my dream. In the meantime, I'm going clip a few more coupons this week, shoe at several stores and get the sales, drive a little less and dip into my carefully crafted plan and donate $25 to Eastern Michigan University's MAGIC program because I believe they could really use the help, especially with the next semester starting soon!
Here are a few links to give you more information about this post:
Original Bridge Article on Ramone Williams
Bridge Update on Ramone Williams
MAGIC Program at EMU for the Homeless