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Events to put a face on homelessness

The Rescue Mission of Fort Wayne will host several events this week designed to promote awareness of hunger and homelessness throughout the city as part of a weeklong national event.

Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week is recognized nationally each year the week before Thanksgiving. This year’s week continues through Sunday.

Although this is only the second year the Rescue Mission has taken part in the national awareness week, event organizer Andrea Hatfield said she hopes this year’s added events will encourage even more supporters to join the conversation about hunger and homelessness.

The kick-off event begins at noon today on the Allen County Courthouse lawn with presentations from the Rescue Mission and a proclamation from Mayor Tom Henry.

The event is expected to last about an hour and participants will receive a free T-shirt. Hatfield said she hopes to see hundreds of supporters gather on the lawn.

“We’re asking the community to really wrap their arms around the event,” Hatfield said. “We have a wonderful city with so many places available for those who need help, but there are also lots that don’t have a place to put their toothbrush at night.”

This year’s sponsors include Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Co., Do-it-Best Corp., BAE Systems, Superior Essex, Pizza Hut and

Hatfield would like to see 240 supporters show up to the kick-off event – each representing five hungry or homeless people they were able to serve last year – to give the public a better understanding of how many people are in need of assistance.

From July 2011 to June 2012, the Rescue Mission has served 1,200 men, women and children in its shelters and has provided more than 211,000 meals, Hatfield said.

As the week continues, the Rescue Mission will sponsor several other events.

•Wednesday, individuals and groups are invited to tour the Rescue Mission, 301 W. Superior St., for a behind-the-scenes look at the facilities. The open house event will be from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

• Friday, the Rev. Donovan Coley, senior pastor of the Rescue Mission, and the Rev. Sharon Gerig, Life House coordinator, will host a luncheon event from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. As part of the event, the pastors will discuss John Ashmen’s book “Invisible Neighbors” and talk about the “new face of homelessness,” Hatfield said.

Throughout the week, people, businesses and churches are also invited to participate in a program called “Skip a Lunch, Feed a Bunch.”

“On average, Americans spend $5 to $7 a day for lunch,” Hatfield said. “By skipping one meal and donating the money to us, we can feed three individuals hot, nutritious meals.”

Monetary donations can be sent to the Rescue Mission or can be donated online at

If you go

What: National Hunger and Homelessness Week kickoff
When: Noon today
Where: Allen County Courthouse lawn
Cost: Free, and participants will receive a free T-shirt
For more information: contact or 426-7357

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