From politics, healthcare, COVID, unemployment, and political and social unrest in the United States of America, in the year 2020 - we witnessed firsthand social inequality on all fronts. This year has been about transitions for all people that have been affected by this pandemic, and how collectively as citizens we have worked together to cope with these hardships.
During the pandemic, locally several GSU students have responded in ways to help their fellow citizens. One student Wickenson, a junior at GSU, decided he wanted to take matters into his own hands - he recruited his friends and teamed up with Greatest MINDS on ways to support the downtown homeless population in Atlanta.
He felt that since we are neighbors it is our responsibility as students to show a sign of good citizenship. So, over the last four months, he has organized with the Greatest MINDS Atlanta a Volunteer Outreach Event with other students providing snack packs, sanitization bags, and even $5 cash of their own money to homeless individuals to make sure their basic resources were met.
Big ups to these young men all ages 19 - 26 years old college students living in Atlanta. They realize what Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm said that “Service is the rent we that you pay for room on this earth.”
Here are the students’ experiences in volunteering:
Justin Perry: "While we were walking downtown looking for those in need; it dawned on me how easy it is to slip into homelessness. Speaking to them and hearing their stories directly puts into perspective how and why it’s such a big problem in the city. There was a feeling of sadness but confusion for them at the same time, sadness at their situation, and confusion on their complacency at the said situation. All in all, the whole thing just reinforced my beliefs in why it’s important to help young adults and people struggling in general."
Benjamin Spellman: "Today feels so great to start the new year by giving back to the community. I along with other Greatest Minds Members went around the street of Downtown Atlanta near Five Points Marta Station and distributed food, hand sanitizers, clothes, and hygiene products to our homeless brothers and sisters. I was so happy when I saw the smile on people's faces today. It lets me know that they know that someone is thinking about them. It’s important to give back to the community because nobody should ever go hungry or go without clothes and it’s important to help people who are less fortunate than others because they need to know that they are loved, and their situation is only temporary."
Malcolm Woodson: "Yesterday I had the opportunity to give out tons of clothes, snacks, water & supplies to many of Atlanta's homeless community. However, what I learned more yesterday that I had never known was how much of a 'community' it really was. Several of them stay in packs and look after one another. It was gratifying but also interesting talking to and meeting some of them. Ultimately, I'm thankful to be a part of something bigger than me. Thank you all for allowing me to join in on this."
Bryce Pitts: "I think it is very important to give back. This whole experience was very humbling for me, because it made me appreciate my parents and where I came from. My parents worked hard so that I wouldn’t have to struggle and maybe one day end up homeless. Giving back makes me want to work hard and take advantage of my situation now, so that I can help people have better futures."
Wickenson Demaitre: "Be the change you want to see. You have to lead and others will follow. Small acts multiplied by millions of people can change the world. It is our duty to help our fellow brothers and sisters who need a helping hand. You never know how that small effort could change someone’s day or week. Let’s put some better energy into giving back!"
John-Baptist Nzale: "I felt honestly it was great to give back to our community. While I was in downtown Atlanta, I saw hope for those who lack resources. I believe by showing up and giving people attention – it can really make a difference in someone’s life. I realize if more of us do this daily – we might be able to solve society’s problems. The first step is actually for us to go out and do it. I am committed."
Check them in action volunteering in Atlanta:
About the GREATEST MINDS:
Greatest MINDS is an organization that partners with and is composed of Georgia State University staff, students, faculty, alumni and community members. Our mission is to provide mentorship and guidance to citizens and first-generation college students seeking to become active and successful contributors to civil society by giving them access to college, career and community networks. We achieve this by promoting intergenerational dialogue through developing programs, forums, initiatives, campaigns and conferences which highlight the issues of race, socio-economic class, and gender identity in urban cities and on college campuses. Through our collaborative process, we work towards solving these social justice issues by developing a more inclusive economy. Greatest MINDS currently has over 100 student members at Georgia State University who participate in mentoring, volunteer and community participation projects throughout the city of Atlanta.