Boston physician to keynote Symposium on Homelessness

The university will host the fifth-annual Symposium on Homelessness Monday, Feb. 20 in Carter Hall.

Clinical Assistant Professor of Nursing Julie St. Clair said the Symposium will teach students about the challenges they may face when entering the workforce.

“I hope that they will come away with more information on homelessness and the statistics of homelessness related to our county,” she said. “I also hope that they dispel many of the stereotypes surrounding homeless people. It’s not just the guy on the side of the road or under a bridge that is homeless. The face of homelessness is so diverse.”

St. Clair said she expects over 600 senior-level students from USI, the University of Evansville, Indiana University School of Medicine and Ivy Tech Community College to attend the Symposium scheduled from 7:45 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.

The keynote speaker will be founding physician of the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program Dr. Jim O’Connell.

O’Connell’s presentation “Lessons from the Streets: Three Decades Caring for Boston’s Rough Sleepers,” will recapture his experiences with homeless people on the streets of Boston.

The Symposium will not be open to the public, but O’Connell will repeat his presentation from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. that night.

St. Clair said the idea for the event originated from a presentation heard from Destination: Home, a movement committed to ending homelessness in Vanderburgh County.

There are 445 people on average in shelters or transitional housing every night in Evansville, according to

In the 2011-2012 school year, the Evansville Vanderburgh County School Corporation reported 520 students had experienced homelessness.

St. Clair teaches a population focused nursing Practice for the Undergraduate Nursing Program in the fall semester. She said many of the projects include serving the homeless population in Vanderburgh County.

“It’s a high-need population, and we have a lot to offer,” she said.

After the keynote speech Monday morning, students can move to the volunteer fair to get involved with local community organizations that offer help to homeless people. The organizations attending the fair include the United Caring Services, the Evansville Rescue Mission, the Evansville Veterans Association and the Echo Housing Corporation.

“We found in the past that people get really fired up by our keynote speaker,” she said. “They want to go out into the world and really make a change, so we decided to have a volunteer fair where they can turn their motivation into action.”