By Scott Halasz
April 12, 2014
XENIA — Think about this: Would you willingly trade the comfort and security of your home in order to live on the streets as a homeless person?
Speaker and author Michael Yankoski did just that, and will share his experiences and insights on April 26 at the Xenia Community Center as part of a banquet to benefit the Jeremiah Tree, a ministry which serves the homeless, addicted and impoverished members of the Xenia community.
Several years ago Yankoski took off a semester from college to do something a little uncanny: he was homeless.
For five months, in six different American cities, Yankoski and his friend Sam intentionally ate from trash cans and homeless shelters, slept under bridges, and panhandled in order to survive. They chose to do this not only in order to better understand the plight of the American homeless, but also to observe how everyday Christians were interacting with this despised corner of American society.
The resulting book, “Under the Overpass: A Journey of Faith on the Streets of America,” captures this journey on the streets and relates the people, experiences and revelations that have forever changed his life. Yankoski will serve as the keynote speaker for the upcoming fund-raising dinner to share his powerful and thought-provoking observations on being homeless, and to raise awareness of how to engage this issue that affects every American city, including Xenia.
Since 2013, the Jeremiah Tree, in partnership with area churches and agencies, has provided hope and assistance for hundreds of families and individuals in the Xenia area. Staffed by volunteers and solely operating on donations, the Jeremiah Tree provides or connects people in need with resources for temporary shelter, housing, transportation, food, mental health and addictions counseling, home-heating assistance and employment opportunities. Funds raised through the banquet will allow the Jeremiah Tree to continue and expand such services.
Admission to the banquet is $25 per person. Tickets can be reserved by calling the Jeremiah Tree at 937-562-3121, or Marlene Labig at 937-974-8221. A will-call table for reserved tickets will open at 5:30 p.m. at the banquet, and the event will begin at 6 p.m.
The Jeremiah Tree is also seeking area businesses, groups and individuals to step up as sponsors for the event, and all donations pledged during the evening will go directly to the Jeremiah Tree to meet the needs of those in the Xenia community. Such organizations have the option to purchase a “table” and pay the admission for those they wish to invite to the banquet.
More information about the Jeremiah Tree, its services and volunteer opportunities is available by calling 937-562-3121.