Paul Mabry prepares to enter his cardboard shelter at last year’s Sleep Out event, which raises funds for Roseville nonprofit Feeding the Need and awareness of its efforts to help the homeless. This year’s Sleep Out will take place Feb. 1 outside the Roseville Police Department.

Paul Mabry prepares to enter his cardboard shelter at last year’s Sleep Out event, which raises funds for Roseville nonprofit Feeding the Need and awareness of its efforts to help the homeless. This year’s Sleep Out will take place Feb. 1 outside the Roseville Police Department.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Fundraiser to increase awareness of homelessness through outdoor ‘Sleep Out’

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published January 18, 2019

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ROSEVILLE — Local nonprofit Feeding the Need will be inviting people to step into the shoes of the homeless population that Feeding the Need helps serve in the Roseville area.

For the third year in a row, the group will be hosting a “Sleep Out” fundraiser in which people will sleep outdoors in the middle of winter to experience what much of the homeless population has to contend with on a daily basis.

“We do a Sleep Out in front of Roseville’s police station,” said Cheryl Becigneul, the founder and executive director of Feeding the Need. “This is our third year. Anybody can register. It shows what it’s like to be homeless for one night. The idea is that people pledge to stay out all night and live this homeless experience. The first year we did it, people said it took them three days to warm up.”

The program will take place from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., with check-in beginning at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1, and Saturday, Feb. 2, at the Roseville Police Department, located at 29777 Gratiot Ave. There is a $25 registration fee, and those interested can sign up at www.macombftn.org. The event will be held regardless of the weather.

“People who have done this say they never realized how cold it is. They had such a  better idea of what the homeless population goes through,” remarked Becigneul. “Our goal is to raise awareness as well as raise funds for Feeding the Need.”

Among those who will be sleeping outdoors is Roseville Police Chief Ryan Monroe. He said supporting causes such as Feeding the Need is important for the community, and the department is proud to lend a hand.

“I will continue to do the Sleep Out like Chief (James) Berlin has done the last two years,” said Monroe. “Cheryl is a big part of this community, and Feeding the Need is a great local charity for us, so we like supporting it. I’ve never slept outside in a box before, but it should be interesting.”

Although the purpose of the exercise is to show the public what it is like to endure winter weather while living on the street, Feeding the Need and the Roseville police will take steps to ensure no one is in any danger from exposure.

“If it’s bitterly cold, people can go into the lobby to our Police Department. It is open 24/7,” said Monroe. “It’s open to everyone. It’s not uncommon for actual homeless people to come in our lobby to warm up or use the bathroom. We try to find placement for them when possible, but as this event highlights, that can be more difficult than it seems.”

Feeding the Need will be providing mats for participants to lay on that will help mitigate the cold as they lay on the ground. A warming station also will be provided. Becigneul still stressed that those who wish to join them need to dress in layers and prepare themselves properly for a night outside in the winter elements.

The money raised from the event will benefit Feeding the Need programs that directly aid the homeless, both in the short term and long term.

“The money goes toward making sure homeless people have supplies like toiletries, food and so forth,” explained Becigneul. “The Homeless to Housing program is something else we do. We put people who are showing they are serious about cleaning up and getting a job and going through detox when necessary … in a home and help them get a job. We also show them how to budget, where local resources are and everything else they need to survive.”

Event organizers are hoping the Sleep Out will drive home the reality of what the homeless have to face every winter and inspire people to play a more active role in helping them.

“I think the event is important because it draws attention to what homeless people in the city and the region have to go through,” said Monroe. “Anyone who has to stay outside when it is so bitterly cold out is at risk. Feeding the Need is a very good resource for the department, and it is very good at helping the senior community and putting people in need in touch with those who can help them. It’s a wonderful organization and we’re glad to play a part.”

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