Event Chair Doris Hicks holds check with Shawnta Friday-Stroud during Distinguished Alumni Awards Banquet.
Florida A&M University (FAMU) students experiencing homelessness received a major boost during Florida Classic week festivities.
At the FAMU National Alumni Association (NAA) Distinguished Awards Banquet Friday, event chair Doris L. Hicks presented a $10,000 check to assist the more than 300 FAMU students who are homeless or facing homelessness.
Hicks said she was inspired to do more to assist financially struggling students after an encounter with a church bus filled with homeless men and women in her hometown, Lakeland. Afterward, Hicks, president of the Polk County Alumni Chapter and FAMU NAA National Scholarship Program chair, inquired and learned that more than 300 FAMU students are homeless. Hicks donates monthly to the Student Emergency Fund and wanted to do more.
“I started raising money after seeing those homeless people,” she said. “I sent letters; I called my friends; I asked everybody I met – people I knew and people I didn’t know. It is important to me.”
Minutes after Hicks presented the big check Friday night, Miami-Dade Commissioner Oliver Gilbert stepped forward and offered $5,000 to assist students in need.
Gilbert, who spearheaded the revival of the Orange-Blossom Classic this September, said he experienced homelessness while he was a FAMU student.
“I slept in my car for a semester,” Gilbert said.
Donations are greatly appreciated because the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the hardships experienced by students, said Shawnta Friday-Stroud, Ph.D., vice president for University Advancement and executive director of the FAMU Foundation.
“We are hearing about more cases of students who are either homeless or near homeless,” Friday-Stroud said. “This makes a big difference.”