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Shaylynn Walsh’s Senior Project: Helping the Homeless

Mekayla Phan, Features Editor

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When people think of the poor and homeless, most think of third world countries, not America.  However, America currently has 1.56 million homeless people. In Tucson, we pass them on the street and drive past them in our cars, but when most people pass someone asking for change on the street – not many people are willingly to help. In her senior project, Shaylynn Walsh shows that it doesn’t take a superhero to reach out for those in need.

In her senior project for Ms. Krause’s AP English class, Walsh researched and interviewed the local homeless. She scrap-booked her adventures at Casa Maria (a soup kitchen) where she went around to listen to people’s stories and performed small acts of kindness. “I really wanted to make a difference in my community, so I thought a good way was try to humanize the homeless – those experiencing homelessness. I guess it was a way to show my peers that they could do something to help too.”

“I was able to really communicate with the people there and learn more about what they are going through,” Walsh says of what her favorite part of the experience was. However, it was also the hardest part. “I have a really hard time with speaking to people…but as I got going it got a whole lot easier after that.” Walsh was so scared in approaching them at first because she didn’t know what to say. She had a list of questions written down of things she wanted to ask, but she learned quickly that she should just talk with them normally. After that, she found that she felt like she was truly able to connect with them.

“I just feel like people should recognize that they are just humans too,” Walsh says. Walsh explains that homelessness is usually just a “temporary” state. That the homeless people she talked to were just ordinary people who were only struggling, with dreams that they want to pursue like we do. One man in particular, “Little Hawk”, who has been homeless for 17 years, taught her that you could be happy and stay positive no matter what life throws at you. Another person who impressed Walsh was a woman nicknamed “Wanda”- who was in dire need herself, but chose to aid others. Finally,  a memorable moment that stood out of her experience was having an argument with a man named  Larry. “You can definitely tell that he didn’t think that anybody would possibly want to help him, and [I was] just trying to get him to see there’s still good in the world.” The two settled on that only 75% of the world was bad.  Walsh said it was quite funny, but still serious.

“I always wanted to help people, I love service and thought this was an excellent way to do it. I learned that anybody can make a difference – that all you need is to talk to these people, and make the feel noticed and make them feel loved. And I think that was the most important thing,” Walsh says in the end. There are still pages left in her scrapbook, and Walsh says she would really like to continue it in the future.

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Delivering Sahuaro's Cutting Edge News & Saving Trees
Shaylynn Walsh’s Senior Project: Helping the Homeless