|Friday, April 15th|
1:40 PM - 2:00 PM
In the heart of downtown Missoula, the Poverello Center (Pov) stands tall but rickety. Though the shelter serves nearly 350 low-income Missoulians a day, it offers few classes to enrich the lives of its clients. The Pov suffers from having few resources for such programs. Fortunately, one employee began a poetry workshop for the residents. As students involved with the University of Montana’s Inequality and Social Justice course, “Hunger and Homelessness” we chose to focus our research on the new poetry workshop. We were particularly interested in discovering how the workshop’s implementation affected the residents. Through the use of field notes, volunteering, and interviews, we tracked how access to creative classes impacted the clients. Specifically, we were interested in answering the question, “How does intellectual engagement impact the quality of life among the residents?” In order to determine this, we drew upon data we had collected in the form of field notes. By attending these workshops, interacting with the clients and volunteering, we hoped to garner an understanding of how workshops such as this change the clients’ perspectives of the Pov, their sense of community and general outlook. We conducted recorded interviews with the clients about their experiences and plan on sharing our findings with the Pov in an effort to promote classes for the homeless in their new facility.
2:00 PM - 2:20 PM
As a part of Poverello Inc., the Joseph Residence aims to break generational cycle poverty and homelessness in Missoula, Montana. For the purpose of our research, generational poverty was defined as the condition of being in poverty for two generations or longer. The Joseph Residence aims to create a stable community through offering subsidized housing, thereby allowing individuals to work toward independent living. This presentation explores how the structure, programs, and individual case management offered by the Joseph Residence impacted the program participants' development of healthy relationships, feelings of accomplishment, and sense of connection to a larger community. These factors are important to our understanding of how, when transmitted from parents to children, the likelihood of future poverty and homelessness can be reduced. Our research drew upon three sources of data: field notes, in-depth interviews, and information provided by staff. We found that the stability and structure provided by the Joseph Residence enabled families to develop the resiliency to overcome homelessness.
2:20 PM - 2:40 PM
In association with the Poverello Center and the University of Montana’s Sociology Department, our study attempted to answer the question, “Can clients at the Missoula homeless shelter meet their nutritional needs based on the FDA Food Pyramid?” Evidence was gathered by undergraduate students who volunteered a minimum of two hours a week in the following programs offered by the Pov: the daily food pantry, Food Security Program, food preparation, serving and food pick-up in the Missoula area. Given the variety of food choices that the Poverello provides to its clients, we asked, “Why do clients favor some options over others?” We were concerned with learning more about which external factors (both social and environmental as well as personal preference) influenced consumers’ food choices. We gathered information from details in our field notes, which were collected while cooking, dining, and volunteering with clients. Through the detailed tracking of the donations from businesses, pantry requests, experiences serving on the line, and recipes from Chef Charlene, we believed we would find that while healthy food is available, people tend to gravitate towards highly caloric, high-in-sodium food both in the pantry and on the line. Understanding food choices of Missoula’s homeless will help service providers and volunteers better serve this communities needs.
2:40 PM - 3:00 PM
The basement of the Poverello Center, familiarly known as the Salcido Center, is a communal daytime space that caters to homeless and transient folks, and really anybody in Missoula wishing to escape the elements and with no where else to go. The Center is unique in that it is non-discriminatory, even against those who may be under the influence of alcohol. Though this is a brash assumption, when the term homelessness is mentioned, a mental image of an individual with specific characterizations is often conjured along with it, and in most cases, in at least appearance, the clients of the Salcido Center play into this image. However, after having spent some time with these folks, it is apparent that these clients are people in the sense that all people are people, with faults and successes and have often found themselves in their current situations for specific reasons. In essence, our basic research question is, who are the people at the Salcido Center? What trends exist among them that they make use of the services the Sal offers, namely a communal space? We have applied these basic questions to different societal groups, as we have seen fit, in order to find more accurate information through the lens of our question. These groups include veterans, Native Americans, those with mental illness, youth and women. Through countless informal conversations, oral histories and observations, we have identified these trends in the hope of better understanding the backgrounds and needs of the population that uses the Salcido.