Prestigious Harvard University not only boasts some of the U.S.’s most elite lawyers, doctors and business people, but Harvard students who want to serve their community can also be added to the list.
The prestigious school provides the only student-ran homeless shelter in the country.
“When I got on campus, I saw a really strong juxtaposition between the wealth, prestige and power of the university compared with the plight of so many people in the square,” said Jonathan Warsh, a senior from Bloomfield Hills, Mich., and co-administrative director for the shelter. “It’s too easy to get trapped in the ivory tower.”
The shelter, which opened its doors to the homeless in 1983, serves the community every night from Nov. 15 to April 15. The shelter is located at University Lutheran Church. The church is not affiliated with Harvard, and it rents out the space to the university for a small fee.
The shelter runs on a $60,000 budget that comes from both state and federal grants, fund-raising from the students, donations from surrounding business owners and volunteering alumni. Harvard students run the shelter entirely, from bookkeeping to cooking and cleaning.
The shelter houses 24 beds, a dining room, a small library, a computer room, men’s and women’s showers, a laundry room and a kitchen. It reaches capacity and beyond every night.
The shelter is needed even more with the harsh winter and tough economic times.
“Demand has definitely gone up since the recession and the housing crisis,” said co-director Luci Yang, a senior from Cleveland.
Yang and Warsh started volunteering their freshman year and did so because they wanted to change lives. Now, they’re finding that their lives are changing by helping others.
“This is my most enriching experience at Harvard,” Yang said.
Via The Huffington Post