On March 12, 2018 Rome Middle School’s Health Science teacher, Lauren Pritchard, and the students in her advisement group got a visit from Devon Smyth, executive director of Davies Homeless Shelter.

Smyth dropped by to pick up care packages assembled for the homeless in a yearly project that was aimed toward the getting students engaged with their community. Care packages contained items such as, “tissues, bottled water, granola bars, toothbrushes and toothpaste, a pair of socks, wipes, and anything that could be used
by someone in need,” stated Pritchard.

Pritchard gives all of the credit to her students, as her class came up with the idea to create care packages for the homeless after seeing a similar act of community service organized by local churches. Each student was assigned different items to bring in to fill gallon-sized freezer bags, which they then assembled together during their advising periods. “This was an idea to help others in our community and set a goal within our reach,” said Pritchard who has planned other community projects throughout the year.

Pritchard’s advising period is the result of a school-wide outreach program called, “Habitudes,” which helps students to develop good leadership skills and attitudes in the classroom and in the community they serve. Each month, Rome Middle School has guest speakers who are members of the community, and they assist by giving
a 30-minute presentation about different outreach organizations. Rome Middle School’s Assistant Principal, Dr. Christy Epps, talked about the execution of Habitudes and how they challenge the advisors to come up with a meaningful project. “Ms. Pritchard, and other teachers at Rome Middle School, have been great at finding new and creative ways our students can serve others. Part of lessons in the classroom is applying them to the world around us,” Dr. Epps said.

Habitudes helped Pritchard’s classroom connect with the William S. Davies Homeless Shelter through Devon Smyth, a community partner who presents once a month at Rome Middle School. “We serve 16 guests at the Shelter, but there are a lot of times when people will walk up and need something, and we don’t have a bed for
them. It’s hard to send them away without something in their hands, so we can keep things like these care  packages and people can still have what they need,” Smyth explained. With over 500 people in the Rome community without the essential means of life, it is helpful for the students because, “their view of Rome’s community changes when you understand that there are people who don’t have what they need to survive,” she added.

“The William S. Davies Homeless Shelter is a faith based ministry completely supported from friends of The Shelter and givers within the community of Rome. The Davies program meets the vital need in our community for a transitional shelter: the gap between an emergency shelter and a program focused on getting people into a
safe environment where they will work towards stability. By offering an on-site computer with lab requirements to learn computer skills essential to today’s job market; access to individual and group counseling, access to mental and physical health care resources; GED classes and testing; assistance with rent and utility deposits and provision of household items and linens; and continued guidance and support through the first months of living on their own, guests of the Shelter are given a restored definition of life that they will carry them through their
first months of rehabilitation on their own.