ASK: Addressing Homelessness & Domestic Violence

Today we had three sessions of ASK videoconferences with local experts in homelessness and domestic violence. Macomb ISD has pioneered the ASK process, and Jim Wenzloff and Arnie Comer have helped us get our own ASK programs going here in the Berrien County.

ASK: Monkey Island
This was our second year of talking with a panel of local professionals providing services to homeless people within our county, arranged and coordinated by Buzz Calvert,Career Education Consultant and McKinney-Vento Homeless Project Coordinator here at the Berrien County ISD. Buzz brought in three panelists for students to interview:

  • Susan Struwin, M. A., Director of Adult Services, Child and Family Services of Southwestern Michigan, Inc.
  • Pam Gabriel, Dept. of Human Services, Benton Harbor
  • and Holly Pomranka, Residential Services of Southwest Michigan and Chair of the Homeless Resolution Network.

Students had read the book Monkey Island, and prepared thoughtful questions to ask during the videoconference interview. The ASK process results in deep thinking and in depth questions that often surprises the interviewees. Here’s a sample of questions from today:

  • What is the worst situation you’ve seen with a homeless child?
  • How do you help someone back on track with their life?
  • How did you get started helping the homeless?
  • Do people at the homeless shelter get along with each other?
  • Do the people at the homeless shelter have to do chores?
  • How do homeless shelters take care of education for the homeless?
  • Not using any names, describe the saddest situation you have experienced.
  • Why do we treat homeless so badly?
  • If Clay’s mom found his dad, how do you think Clay and his dad would do?
  • What’s the most rewarding experience for you in your job?

Congratulations to Niles High School and Hull Middle School for careful preparation and great questions shared during the videoconference. Our presenters were impressed with your hard work.

Buzz Calvert commented, “This process is really about getting the students engaged in reading the book.” And Susan Struwin believes, “This is a good way for students to learn about services available for homeless & all residents in Berrien County.”

ASK: Cracker Jackson
After two sessions of Monkey Island, and a bit of lunch, we had another ASK session with Becky Carter, Program Manager, Safe Shelter, Inc., our local women’s shelter. Students from Upton Middle School & Lighthouse Education Center read the book, Cracker Jackson, and prepared good questions. Here’s a sample of their questions:

  • Why would a woman not leave her husband if he beats her?
  • Do you ever get women come to the shelter who are only verbally abused?
  • How does having a child affect the relationship between the abuser and the abused?
  • Who can the family talk with to get help?
  • What do you think should happen to the person who beats someone?
  • If you’re a teen and you’re in a relationship, what should you watch out for?
  • Why would you hurt someone you love if you don’t want to be hurt yourself?
  • What can kids do if there is abuse in the home?

Another great day of VCs here in Berrien County. Students thinking deeply on important issues; asking intelligent thoughtful questions, and guest presenters experiencing the miracle of communication technology!

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