College junior Brian Collopy’s proposal for the University to become a better neighbor to the most fragile members of our community is excellent. He is quite right to ask: If his high school could set up a viable center to help homeless people, why can’t the University of Pennsylvania? This is the kind of critical thinking that led to the Hub of Hope on 16th Street. For years, people complained about homeless people panhandling and sleeping in the subway concourse at 16th Street and JFK Boulevard. City resources are spent in trying to “clear them out” of the area, suggesting that they find services at local agencies. When that failed to work, someone had the bright idea of bringing services there. Last winter, the area was renovated and food and clothing were made available — making begging unnecessary. Physicians also offered medical care onsite. Many people who were helped there last year were able to find permanent housing with the assistance of Project H.O.M.E.

A comparable Hub of Hope at Penn could be a wonderful thing both for helpers and the helped. A first step would be to learn more about how to organize such an endeavor. The Hub at 16th — and another student run unit at Broad and Arch streets — needs volunteers from now until March. Signing up for even one shift can make a difference.

For more information, or to sign up, email karenorrick@projecthome.org or call 215-232-7272, ext. 3048.

Deborah Anna Luepnitz is a clinical faculty member at Penn’s Department of Psychiatry. Her email address is deborlue@mail.med.upenn.edu.

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