They All Need a Job . . .

Participants in The Road Home, a homeless simulation event, lined up to try and get a job during the game of life Friday, April 21, at Union High School. Participants role-played homeless individuals trying to get employment, education and shelter before getting hauled out of the city limits for violating vagrancy laws. The event was to show people some of the obstacles homeless individuals face on a day-to-day basis. It was one of several activities held during the overnight event, which helped raise awareness, funds and collect items for those in need. It was organized by UHS senior Josie Arens. Read more about the project in today’s issue. Missourian Photo/Karen Butterfield.

The Road Home, a homelessness awareness and simulation event, will be held this Friday and Saturday, April 20-21, at Union High School.

The event is aimed to educate the community about homelessness and the struggles homeless individuals go through on a day-to-day basis.

For the second year running, the simulation at the high school will include a mock soup kitchen, keynote speakers, charity booths and service projects like making fleece blankets, planting tomato and pepper plants for the food pantry to distribute, and packaging quick, dry ingredient meals for those in need.

The outreach program was founded by Union High School alumna Josie Arens as part of a school project her senior year. This year, the event is being organized by Jireh Ministries’ SafeKids program.

The event began as a project in Arens’ Innovative and Project-Based Learning class early.

In class, students were challenged to work on a complex problem, research needs, and create a solution and an action plan.

They were encouraged to reach out to professionals and community members in executing their project.

She reached out to local nonprofits that target homelessness and poverty, such as the Agape House in St. Clair, Foundations for Franklin County, the Franklin County Homelessness Task Force, Franklin County Area United Way and others.

Jireh Ministries runs several outreach programs, including Safekids in St. Clair, religious radio station Rock Radio and several others.

Setup for the event will begin at 3 p.m. and run through 6 p.m. Check-in for participants will run from 6-7 p.m.

Food, games, guest speakers and projects will be available all through the evening.

Participants who plan to stay overnight for the lockout must sign up to do so at the event. Weather permitting, the lockout will be on the high school’s football field.

The lockout time, when participants who have not signed up to stay the night must check out and leave the event. Those who stay overnight are welcome to camp out until 10 a.m.