Updated: Mar 25
Jocelyn Patterson (CMS Class of 2018) wrote this article about her experiences with CU at Home One Winter Night, an annual event to raise awareness and funds to help the homeless in our community. Jocelyn is the Captain of 2021 Champaign Central High School Future Business Leaders of America Team, which was the sixth-highest ranked fundraising team in this year's event.
One Winter Night is a fundraising event created and run by CU at Home. CU at Home is a local charity organization in Champaign-Urbana that helps the homeless get back on their feet. One Winter Night is an annual fundraiser where volunteers sleep on the streets of Champaign-Urbana to raise awareness about our friends without addresses. This year marks the tenth anniversary of the One Winter Night event.
I was first introduced to this organization through Champaign Central’s Future Business Leaders of America in 2019. We had the opportunity to meet one of the amazing organizers of this event, Rob Dalhaus III. He shared success stories about those who had struggled through homelessness right here at home and taught us how we could help. I was instantly intrigued and I wanted to help in any way that I could.
After discussing with my fellow officers and chapter members we decided that we would try to raise $3,000 as a team. I signed up to be a box dweller and created our team shortly after and immediately began planning how I would advertise. Thanks to the skills I had gained from my year and a half in FBLA I wrote a letter kindly asking local businesses, family, and friends to donate to the One Winter Night cause. In the weeks before the event I had already gotten 60% of the way to my personal goal of $1,000. I was able to raise just over that much the night of the event in my first year. In total we reached 92% of our goal, over $2,000 of which I raised personally.
We were excited to try again this year and raise even more money. I once again sent out a plea to everyone I knew hoping that they could help reach our goal this year. Each of our participating members worked hard and my fellow officer and friend Lalit along with myself were able to raise over our goals before the event had even started. I was amazed by how hard each of us were working to reach our goal. By the time the event was over we had raised over $4,000 for CU at Home.
Part of our participation in the event was to sleep outside on the streets of Urbana-Champaign on one of the coldest nights of the year. My first year it snowed which was both fun and challenging. My friends and I had a lot of fun having a snowball fight with other box dwellers. To keep warm we all had layers upon layers of clothes and about a million blankets each. We also noted that having hand warmers in your socks and gloves made everything better. Once it got pretty late it was just myself and my advisor Mr. Fagerlin. We had cut a sort of window between our boxes and spent some time playing Yahzee, which as it turns out is very hard to cheat at. To this day, that is still one of my favorite memories. This year we had Lalit join us in staying the whole night. We had a lot of fun catching up and playing Uno with another member from our chapter. We also had time to network with our fellow box dwellers which lead to a few internships in the future.
Honestly I loved working with this organization and I can’t wait to see what FBLA and CU at Home will do in the future. I’m planning on pushing our chapter even further next year by setting our goal for $5,000 and at least five members who will spend the whole night outside.