Bloomington nonprofit challenges community to spend a night in a car and in someone else’s shoes

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) – 78 teams participated in Home Sweet Home Ministries’ annual “Night in a Car” fundraiser and mock roaming event Friday night.

Home Sweet Home CEO Matt Burgess said the event helps raise funds so they can continue to provide their services, but their aim is also to open people’s eyes to the day-to-day reality of many of people.

“It’s the coldest time of year to put on an event like this, and we do it on purpose, because we want the people who attend to have just a small idea of ​​how difficult and, frankly, how difficult it is. threat to life, perhaps, not having a home,” Burgess said.

Many teams participated in person at Trinity Lutheran Church in Bloomington, or virtually from home. Burgess said they also have teams participating in several other states.

Normal Councilwoman Chemberly Cummings said she attended all but one of six Home Sweet Home Ministries “Night in a Car” events.

She said she understood the significance of the event, saying she herself lost everything in 2008.

“My very first year, there were maybe 10-20 cars here, and we did really well, but coming to this place now where this parking lot is full, and the amount of money we’ve been able to raise has been amazing, and I’m really excited, and I can’t wait to see what it will be like in six years,” Cummings said.

Staff at Stevenson Elementary in Bloomington said they were participating because they had students used to going without.

“The best way to truly experience empathy is to do your best to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, so tonight, one of the coldest nights of 2022, is a great way to do it,” said Lynn Shook, director of Stevenson.

And Burgess said he surpassed his goal of raising $150,000.

“We really see this fueling our ability to provide the accommodation services that we offer, the food services that we offer, our case management that helps people chart a path forward, we can’t do any of that without the help of a fundraiser like this,” Burgess said.

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