Special Report: Students Live as Homeless People to Increase Awareness About Growing Issue - Part II

Special Report: Students Live as Homeless People to Increase Awareness About Growing Issue - Part II

By Sylvia Gonzalez
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - On NewsWest 9 at 6 p.m., we brought you the story of a group of Odessa High students who wanted to know how it was to live the life of a homeless person, they were not only faced with the wind but also the frigid temperatures.

NewsWest 9 caught up with the students and their teacher throughout the night and in the morning, regarding the project.

"I am starting to double think this," Eli Franco, Senior at Odessa High School, said.

Franco was energetic and optimistic when this project began earlier in the day, but as nightfall settled, he started to realize just how hard life can be for a person who doesn't have a place to call home.

"It helps me realize what they go through, we are here stuck on Coleman field, it's secure, there are restrooms that are opened. They don't have that, there's people who don't have anything at all," Franco said.

Teacher Stephanie Tibbets says that as the night got colder and the winds picked up, she and her students got a rude awakening. They began to understand that what they were doing as a class project, gives them just a taste of the lifestyle that many homeless people around town are forced to live.

"It really does remind us that there are many families in the Permian Basin that are feeling the same cold and they don't have a warm home to look forward to tomorrow," Tibbets said.

Although they all survived the night, Tibbets said one student wanted to leave, and even with harsh weather moving in, there was still time for a quick lesson.

"One in particular wanted to call it quits and was ready to go home and we had a talk about commitment, and don't you think that's how people feel and she eventually fell asleep," Tibbets said.

Tibbets and her students say they learned not only to appreciate the little things in life, but to be thankful for all that they have. Overall, it was an eye-opening experience for everyone who participated.

"We only did one day and it was tough for us, just imagine for them. I give them big props for that, they are strong people for doing this," Franco said.

"We all get to go home to our houses, we get to go home to our warm beds and there are alot of people who don't for who knows how long and is a really sobering thought," Tibbets said.