News From Terre Haute, Indiana


February 17, 2013

Families by Choice’s ‘Box In’ to simulate homelessness

TERRE HAUTE — Homelessness is no day in the park, but local advocates hope to convey the experience through a simulation amid the great outdoors.

Muriel Ryan, co-founder of Families by Choice, said her group will host a “Box In” from the evening of April 19 through the morning of April 20. The overnight homelessness simulation will feature speakers and educational programming in Gilbert Park, she said.

“We’re encouraging families to come out. Students can bring their parents,” she said. “We’ll be spending the night with speakers and simulations.”

Ryan said her organization hopes the program becomes an annual event, and explained the title refers both to the cardboard boxes used as shelters by homeless people, as well as the metaphorical boxes in which they find themselves. Many of the homeless, she said, are “boxed into poverty,” mental illness, drug addiction, or other problems, she explained.

Dave Menkin, program director at Club Soda, said there’s a strong link between substance abuse and homelessness. Their facility on South Fourth Street serves as a drug- and alcohol-free hangout for people struggling with addictions, and offers both Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous programs. And though they’re not a homeless shelter, the club routinely gets upwards of 15 people a month looking for just that.

“You’d be surprised at how many people come to us with just no place to go,” he said of the facility which operates between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m., seven days a week.

About 75 percent of their members are directed there either by the court system, or by a shelter such as the Light House Mission, he said.

“If they’re fortunate enough to get into the mission,” he remarked, pointing out true numbers of the homeless are tough to determine. Much like the unemployed, only those who seek assistance are counted, and many simply go off society’s radar. “It’s a lot worse than what people think it is.”

John Etling, director of Terre Haute Catholic Charities, said results from the annual one-day count taken in January came in Friday. Those numbers should be tabulated some time in the coming weeks, he said, expressing confidence they’ll be fairly high again.

Counts taken in recent years have documented more than 200 homeless individuals in the community, and like Menkin, he said a true number is tough to establish given the demographic’s mobility.

“Our capacity still remains pretty high. We always seem to have a pretty full house at Bethany House,” he said, remarking that shelter maintains a 90-percent capacity throughout the year. Other area agencies ranging from the Terre Haute Housing Authority to the Council on Domestic Abuse likewise service this group, he said.

Ryan’s agencies provide living quarters for homeless people, who learn to work together as a family unit while transitioning to permanent housing. Their property known as Deborah’s House currently has four mothers and seven children, with one of the women expecting soon. Their home for men has six, and their youth program has five, she said.

“We’re sticking to the family model,” she said of her program, explaining the need to address behavior change and long-term solutions.

But homelessness is a complex dynamic, and there are considerable differences between families displaced by emergencies and individuals with mental illness, she observed.

“There’s a very clear connection to mental health and childhood trauma,” she said of the issue.

Cost to participate in the “BOX IN” will be $30, she said. Participants will be allowed one blanket and food will be minimal throughout, although breakfast will be served in the morning.

“And we are looking for sponsors,” she said.

Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News Poll
AP Video
Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Airstrike Shatters Fragile Calm in Gaza Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Fox Dons 'Bondage Strap' Skirt at Comic-Con Raw: Violent Clashes Between Libyan Militias Today in History for July 28th 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma
NDN Video
'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -


    March 12, 2010

Real Estate News