Children's book to teach about homeless families in Memphis

Published: Sep. 17, 2015 at 9:55 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 18, 2015 at 4:53 PM CDT
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(Source: Dorothy Day House of Hospitality)
(Source: Dorothy Day House of Hospitality)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - There's a new children's book making rounds in schools across the Mid South and it's helping teach children about homelessness among families.

The book "What Does It Mean To Be Poor?" has already been distributed to 50 classes. It's a part of a GIVE365 gr ant at the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis.

"We all know that children learn by listening to the words and watching the actions of their parents and teachers. This book was written in order to help you talk about a subject that is important, yet sometimes difficult," Sr. Maureen Griner, founder of Dorothy Day House of Hospitality, said.

Dorothy Day House of Hospitality received the gr ant earlier this year to help fund their "Shaping the Next Generation Program." The book provides a way for parents and teachers to talk with children about an important, yet sometimes difficult, topic.

"As a non-profit that provides shelter and support services for homeless families, we believe we are in a unique position to talk with elementary, middle school and high school students about poverty and family homelessness. It is our hope that these presentations will help to shape the next generation of generous Memphians…people who care about the poor and especially about the homeless families in our city," Sr. Griner said.

The house was founded in 2006 to help the growing need to provide a safe place for homeless families. Their goal is to keep homeless families together and help give them time and resources to get out of homelessness.They do that by providing a space for families to lives. They also provide food and other needs to allow adults to work to get a job and eventually find a place to live.

The book will be a part of lesson plans and presentations for each grade level on the following topics: what it means to be poor, family homelessness, the Dorothy Day House the role the house plays in helping families. The program will also include a service project for each class. Each child will receive a copy of the book and the chance to view a video tour of the house.

"Teachers and other youth leaders will be encouraged to provide opportunities for us to present two or more of the topics to the youth they serve. This can be done in school, in a church setting or any other setting where children are gathered to learn. There will be no cost involved," Sr. Griner said.

Presentations will include print materials, worksheets, audio-visuals, reflection and discussion on the topic being addressed. Each presentation will be 30-45 minutes in length, depending on the grade level of the participants.  All sessions can be done at the Dorothy Day House or at another location."We hope that by sharing this book and talking about it with the children in your life, you will re-ignite your own concern and care for the poor and encourage the next generation to be generous to those in need," Sr. Griner said.

If you're interested in receiving a book or inviting Sr. Griner to speak to your classroom visit

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