“Homelessness is becoming a problem of epic proportions,” seventh-grader Maeve Geraghty tells the camera in an award-winning mini-documentary created by her religious education class at St. John Vianney Catholic School in Kailua, Hawaii.
The production won the grand prize in the 2010 Multi-Media Youth Arts Contest sponsored by the U.S. bishops’ Catholic Campaign for Human Development. An announcement on the contest lists all the winners, who include students from Catholic schools in Nashville, Tenn.; Orlando, Fla.; Louisville, Ky.; Amsterdam, N.Y.; and Toledo, Ohio.
Maeve and her classmates learned some important lessons about homelessness in the nation and in their own state. They teach viewers something, too, such as the fact that in the U.S., there are 750,000 homeless people. In Hawaii there are 14,000, and families with children make up 40 percent of that number.
The primary cause of homelessness is the lack of affordable housing. Other factors include low-paying jobs; mental illness and substance abuse, and the lack of services available for people in those situations; and unempolyment and domestic violence.
The Hawaii seventh-graders’ film focuses on Family Promise, which brings faith communities together to help shelter people by taking turns offering them temporary quarters. Participating congregations also mobilize volunteers to help provide other services and resources to the families in need. The Hawaii affiliate is one of several operating in 41 states and the District of Columbia. The Family Promise organization was founded about 20 years ago.