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DU student has “passion” for helping homeless

Kristen Medina’s passion for serving the homeless began during her sophomore year in high school when she traveled to Seattle on a mission trip to work in the inner city. The experience changed her so much she knew she would continue helping the homeless in college.

Medina, now a DU sophomore psychology major, recently made good on that commitment, spearheading an effort to raise more than $5,000 for Project Homeless Connect 7 (PHC 7), a one-day event at DU’s Ritchie Center on April 24.

PHC 7—a partnership between DU, the city of Denver and the Mile High United Way—serves as a one-stop shop for homeless individuals and families to access more than 60 local service organizations including basic medical care, food stamp benefits, veteran’s services, resumé assistance, legal advice, haircuts and basic hygiene products.

Medina worked with Sodexho, DU’s food service provider, to allow students to donate unused meals from their campus meal plans to clients and volunteers at PHC 7.

“As a student with a meal plan, I know that many students have many extra meal swipes and meal cash left over at the end of the quarter—they don’t carry over, but simply disappear,” says Medina. “So why not use our extra meals to provide meals for other people who aren’t guaranteed three meals a day?”

Each meal donation was equivalent to a $3.50 cash donation.

Meal plans also include money that can be used at on-campus coffee shops or convenience stores. Students also could donate any unused money from this part of their meal plans.

Medina worked with students from the Pioneer Leadership Program and the Living and Learning Communities to solicit the meal plan donations. Due to these efforts, they raised $5,087, which will be used to cover the cost of food for clients and volunteers at the event and additional client transportation. Clients and volunteers will get a meal and a snack during PHC 7 at the Ritchie Center.

“The great thing about the DU community is that everyone really rallies around PHC,” says Medina. “Students were excited and more than willing to donate anything and everything that they had.”

More than 240 volunteers are still needed to staff the event. Client support volunteers are paired one-on-one with the homeless and will help them prioritize and navigate PHC 7. Other opportunities exist for facilities volunteers, information desk staffers, greeters, service provider support and more. Volunteers must attend one of six hour-long training sessions on campus.

Individuals volunteering for client support service who attend one of the first four training sessions will be entered in a drawing to win two tickets to an April 20 sneak preview of The Soloist, a new movie about homelessness and the power of music featuring Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr., as well as two movie T-shirts.

Client support services volunteers who attend one of the final two training sessions will be entered into a drawing for one of two gift certificates for one-night weekend stays at the TownePlace Suites and Residence Inn in downtown Denver.

To volunteer or learn more about the event, visit

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