H.O.P.E. brings author Michael Yankoski to speak on homelessness

Author Michael Yankoski will speak at Trinity at 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 28, in the Parker Chapel Meditation Room.  Yankoski is the Christian writer of “Under the Overpass: A Journey of Faith on the Streets of America.”  His novel details his experiences after deciding to live as a homeless person in order to empower himself as a Christian and as a human being.  He traveled to six U.S. cities over the course of six months, without any pre-determined plans for food or shelter.  Yankoski will describe his experiences and participate in a book-signing at the end of the lecture.

The residents of H.O.P.E. Hall, a group of students living in Murchinson who have dedicated a large portion of their time at Trinity to community service, have planned and sponsored this event.

“Part of the mission of H.O.P.E. Hall is to raise awareness about homelessness on Trinity’s campus and to reach out to our community,” said senior H.O.P.E. Hall resident Katie Ogawa. “The lecture is meant to engage students and community members of San Antonio as we advertise to all of our community partners as well.”

The purpose of this lecture is to educate students on the reality of homelessness, according to Yankoski.  His book and teachings have been incorporated into the first-year seminar dealing with homelessness.

“I hope students get a feel for what it was like to be a homeless person, and what it was like to be treated as a homeless person by everyone else,” said junior Isaiah Ellis, who is the peer tutor of the first-year seminar. “I hope [the attendees] realize that homelessness is an extremely complex issue, and the homeless are extremely complex people, just like you and me.”

Yankoski hopes that Trinity students will see similarities between his story and their own experiences, leading them to be more sympathetic for the homeless population.

“I want them to be left with no choice but to get rid of their stereotypes of what homelessness means for the people that experience it,” Yankoski said.

“I think Mike Yankoski’s story is very relatable to Trinity students in many ways. Yankoski was in college and asked himself if the way he lived his life was congruent with his beliefs. He wondered what it would be like to live homeless. With only a backpack, sleeping bag, guitar and a friend, he set out to be homeless in six different U.S. cities over six months,” said Edwin Blanton, coordinator of community service involvement.

Perhaps one of Yankoski’s strongest messages is that of Christianity.

“[Yankoski] felt called to live out his Christian faith by understanding what it’s like to be homeless, and to see how the church responds to homelessness,” said Ellis.

This lecture will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, in the Parker Chapel Meditation Room.  The event is free and open to all students, teachers, faculty and members of the community.