Posts Tagged ‘Dori Zinn’

University of Central Florida Junior Jessica Gillespie poses as a homeless person.

By: Dori Zinn, Adviser

They sat down at the Ramada Inn conference room table waiting for the news meeting to start – staring each other up and down, mentally questioning everyone’s stories, qualifications, and credentials. What sets them apart? What brought 18 college students together from across the country during Labor Day weekend, 2010, to take over a homeless shelter?

They were hungry. They showed it, too. They spent an upwards of 19 hours on Sunday, Sept. 5 at the COSAC shelter in Hollywood, Fla., with the last group leaving at 4:30 a.m. They interviewed, wrote, edited, recorded, laughed, cried, and finally, they came out to see the light of day with reassurance that their purpose in journalism still stands. Everyone has a story. These students had the chance to tell them.

Ashley spoke with Johnny McCormick – the shelter’s oldest resident, and the reason why COSAC exists. Andrew followed around a vendor and questioned drivers and pedestrians passing by what they thought. Jessica and Hannah dressed up as homeless people and stood on the streets of Fort Lauderdale selling copies of the Homeless Voice and begging for money. After returning from their posts, COSAC Founder/Director Sean Cononie was even convinced by their new wardrobes.

“What’s so funny?” I asked him.

“Look at her,” he said, pointing to Jessica. “She looks homeless!”

The final group left COSAC at 4:30 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 6.

One student interviewed the clinically unstable patients; another student interviewed the head chef. A few girls went on an Outreach Mission, talking to homeless on the streets and encouraging them to come back to COSAC. They all left the shelter knowing they can make a difference in the world through journalism, which was one of the leading purposes of this project.

Throughout the coming days and weeks, their reactions will be posted here. Stay tuned for their stories, as well as final product of the October, 2010 issue of the Homeless Voice.