Fund-raiser spent in tents

Ken Eisinger

Danny Belle describes himself as a “street person” who has been homeless for “quite a few years.”
This weekend, however, Belle had some extra company on the streets.
Members of Kappa Sigma fraternity joined Belle in a street sleep-out from 8 a.m. Thursday to 4 p.m. Friday during Snow Days, which raised $3,758 for the St. Stephen’s Shelter, where Belle is a resident. The event was staged to raise awareness of homelessness.
Living in front of Coffman Union in maroon and gold tents for 30 hours, the campers stayed busy distributing more than 1,000 flyers to passersby. Kappa Sigma raised money for the shelter through a raffle.
Kappa Sigma members said the uncomfortable sleeping conditions during Snow Days did not lower the campers’ morale. They recall people stopping at the tents for the raffle and staying to speak with the visitors from the shelter. The members felt that Snow Days was a success, but do not plan to stop with this single event.
“You can see they’ve had some tough situations in their lives and that’s why they’re where they’re at. They’re trying to get out of it, and they’re working hard,” said Kappa Sigma member Mark Bonde.
Postsecondary student Nicholas Dickinson says he doesn’t see the homeless problem on campus but that he still knows it’s there.
“Visit a shelter, help out, serve food. Then you’ll understand who needs help and why,” Dickinson said.
But Carlson School of Management junior Bryan Dorner said he sees homeless people around campus, in the bus depots and in Dinkytown. Dorner said homeless people must motivate themselves to rise out of poverty.
However, Kappa Sigma member Corey Johnson said, “It’s not all people who have no hope anymore, (who are) not trying. There are guys who are trying to get on their feet, and they need doors opened for them and they need a little help. That’s what St. Stephen’s is doing.”
The St. Stephen’s Shelter is located in South Minneapolis and contains 40 beds for homeless men. The shelter provides job training, health care and programs to help homeless people purchase and retain homes.
Belle said that becoming homeless can be as simple as acquiring a bad rental history and that many people are one paycheck away from being homeless. He recalls his ambivalent attitude toward homeless people when he was in the corporate world.
“I used to wear a suit and tie to work every day. I used to be standing at the bus stop and a guy might walk up to me and ask ~’Do you have a buck?’ And I would look down on him,” Belle said. “Now the shoe is on the other foot.”