By Lisa Donchak
How often do you get the chance to help your community while eating soup?
On the weekend of May 18, you’ll have your chance, because The Homeless Service Center (HSC) in downtown Santa Cruz will be holding its annual fundraiser, Soupline.
According to Marcus Banuelos, case manager for the Day Services Program at HSC, the event raised $53,000 for the shelter last year.
“[The fundraiser] brings in so much revenue, and that goes toward helping [to keep] the shelter running,” Banuelos said.
The shelter provides a variety of services, including overnight housing, transitional housing, meals, lockers for storing personal items, and a hygiene bay, which includes sinks and showers.
Soupline is heading into its eighth year, but this will be the first year that UC Santa Cruz students will be actively encouraged to participate in the fundraising activities on campus.
Franklin Williams, who teaches at UCSC and is on the Board of Directors at HSC, is trying to secure ties between the Soupline event and the UCSC campus. His goal is to raise one dollar from every student.
“This will entitle students to attend events and get a bowl of soup,” Williams explained in an e-mail.
Williams wants to make the event campus-wide to incorporate as many student organizations as possible.
“We want to have a large amount of entertainment and other forms of fun,” Williams said. He hopes each college on campus will be able to participate in the event.
Tom Bowles, a first-year UCSC student who is helping organize the event, thinks homelessness is one of the most omnipresent issues in Santa Cruz and believes people should donate money.
“It’s only a dollar. It’s not even a laundry load,” Bowles said.
Karina Ciprian, a first-year who is working with Bowles to organize the event, stressed the importance of making connections between the community and UCSC students.
“The shelter right now is very under-funded, so they need all the funding they can get,” Ciprian said.
HSC managed to build a family shelter for $4.5 million, but the cost of maintaining the new building caused the group to run a monthly budget deficit. The money Soupline raises will go toward supporting the new building.
Gabriel Miranda, a second-year student with the UCSC California Student Public Interest Research Group (CalPIRG), volunteered at the shelter for one weekend. He believes homelessness is often overlooked in the community.
“I think that the Soupline program will help the shelter by getting more help in the form of volunteers that can alleviate the work load,” Miranda said. “[The program will] expose people to the types of conditions homeless people have to endure, and hopefully persuade them to donate either time or money to the shelter.”
Bowles is optimistic that students will want to contribute to the event and hopes for a good turn out.
Bowles said, “Everyone should be seriously interested in doing this, because it’s going to make a genuine difference in the community that we’re going to be living in.”
_If you or an organization you are affiliated with are interested in participating in the event, e-mail Franklin Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org._