Angela Coco//The Crown Bill Bolan, director of the Shoval Center, sits near one of the boxes used in the 60 Hour Solidarity Experience.
Angela Coco//The Crown
Bill Bolan, director of the Shoval Center, sits near one of the boxes used in the 60 Hour Solidarity Experience.

As part of Hunger For Justice Week, the 60 Hour Solidarity Experience is a simulation that attempts to make us realize what it’s like to experience homelessness.

I only spent an hour in “The Box,” myself, and after the first few minutes, was instantly impacted by the sights and sounds around me.

I recalled my first trip to New York City, where one of the people I went with, giving us the rundown of how not to look like a tourist, said to me, “And when you see the homeless people on the street, don’t make eye contact or they’ll ask you for money.”

How terrible must this be for someone who has nowhere to go but a makeshift home on the side of the street to be universally ignored?

Some people did stop to talk while I was in “The Box,” but I have to wonder: if this were the real deal, if I were filthy and unkempt, how many people would have stopped to talk to me?

There were a lot of things I took in from my surroundings. The smells of luxury perfumes, people laughing together as they walked from class to class, Starbucks cups in hand, and I can’t imagine what it must be like to constantly be reminded just how much you don’t have. And, perhaps, how much you want.

On the streets of somewhere like New York, where luxury is all around you, what must it be like?

I took all of this away from one hour, which is nothing in comparison to the millions around the world who have to suffer through this every day.

I used to be one of those people who assumed homelessness was an epidemic in far-off lands. It happened to other people, it didn’t happen here.

Through the information and events given to us through Hunger For Justice Week, it’s evident that homelessness is a problem so much closer to home than we tend to realize.

It’s down the street from you, it’s the next town over, it’s right in your backyard and it’s about so much more than charity and generosity, more than awareness and acknowledging the problem, it’s about how to move forward.

It’s about addressing homelessness and proactively trying to move toward relief.