Plymouth and Neighbor 2 Neighbor 17th Annual
Homelessness Prevention Vigil and Youth Sleep Out
Saturday, December 4-5, 2021
Vigil at 5 pm North Parking Lot Patio of Plymouth UCC
We are live and in person this year for the 17th annual Homelessness Prevention Vigil and Youth Sleep Out! Last year we persevered through extreme social distancing in Plymouth’s north parking lot with a video vigil shown to us on a blow-up screen in the back of two pick-ups and the sound coming to our cars through FM radio. And all our teen programming was through Zoom and each teen slept out in their own backyard.
This year we can all gather for the vigil at the steps of the patio in the north parking lot as we have traditionally done with barrel fires, live music and inspirational speakers. Sister Mary Alice Murphy, one of the founders of the Homelessness Prevention Program, will inspire us with her passion for serving the poor and dis-enfranchised. New to our vigil speaker line-up will be Fort Collins mayor, Jenny Arndt who has been on the front lines of social justice issues for many years in Colorado state government. Our high school teens and their adult sponsors will have a soup supper and breakfast (provided by the Outreach and Mission Board) outside on the Plymouth lawn. Their educational activities will be socially distance and masked in our fellowship hall. They will sleep out in their traditional cardboard boxes on the front lawn in solidarity with homeless people who only have cardboard box shelters to sleep in year around.
Perhaps you are new to Plymouth and to this Plymouth staple of holiday traditions…WHAT EXACTLY IS THE HOMELESSNESS PREVENTION VIGIL AND SLEEPOUT? It is an annual event in which high school youth sleep outdoors in cardboard boxes to raise awareness of the issue of homelessness in our community and gain empathy for the incredible challenges that homeless individuals face on a daily basis. As part of this event, youth also participate in an educational session focused on the complex nature of homelessness and its impact on both individuals and communities. To engage the wider community in this event, there is also a vigil in which people of all ages are invited to listen to a variety of speakers discuss various facets of the issue of poverty in Northern Colorado. Most importantly, the Sleepout is a fundraiser for Neighbor to Neighbor’s Homeless Prevention Program, which provides rental assistance to help keep individuals and families in their homes. The need for Neighbor to Neighbor’s services is up 2000% in 2020, which means the money raised from this event is much-needed and will be put to good use in our community!
In the early 2000s Plymouth’s Senior Minister, the Rev. Hal Chorpenning began meeting Sister Mary Alice Murphy and others from St. Joseph and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic parishes to brainstorm how homelessness can be prevented rather than “cured.” They developed a non-profit, the Homelessness Prevention Initiative, for providing rental assistance to keep families out of homelessness. HPI is now the Homelessness Prevention Program of Neighbor 2 Neighbor. N2N estimates that, once a family becomes homeless, the per household costs of a temporary shelter housing, emergency room visits, agency services, food baskets, and the new housing total $5,000 or more per family. A cost of $300 rental assistance per family looks pretty good compared to $5,000!
For over 12+ years, many Plymouth volunteers staffed the application and interview processes for families to receive assistance. At the recommendation of a Plymouth member who had recently transferred from a UCC church in Minnesota, the idea for the youth sleepout to raise funds took shape. This is a village – Plymouth and Larimer county social justice non-profits and other front range faith communities – helping another village – our Larimer county neighbors who need help staying in their homes. You can find more information on the Plymouth/Neighbor 2 Neighbor Homelessness Prevention Program Sleep Out and Vigil on the Plymouth website.
Join us this Saturday, December 4, 2021 at 5 pm for the 17th Annual Sleep Out Vigil!
See you Saturday at 5 pm at the Vigil as we sing, pray and are inspired by those on the front lines of eradicating homelessness in Larimer County!
With you on the journey,
Brooklyn is Plymouth's Director of Christian Formation for Children & Youth. She has served in local church and student ministries for the past several years. A native of northern Colorado, Brooklyn has professional experience leading in worship, youth, and children’s programs. Read her full bio here.