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Hands that help at the United World College

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By The Staff

‘Small communities all over the world have the power to help each other,” said Jomkaun (Lynn) Theprungsirikul from Thailand and a student at United World College. “Hands reaching out, people from many backgrounds, the great variety of people—this will be a really big event,” said Laura Angeline Pastores of the Philippines, another World College student. “The government may not be working hard to help and that’s why we need people to help,” said Elizabeth Villalobos Zamora from Costa Rica.

These students are among the many performers tonight at the “Helping Hands Around the World” United World College benefit for Samaritan House and the Cold Weather Shelter. The fundraiser will be at Montezuma Castle’s grand dining room starting at 6 p.m. Shuttles will be available every 10 minutes from the car parking lot at the Welcome Center going up the hill to the castle.

“All the world is helping the Las Vegas community,” said Elizabeth Villalobos Zamora, a United World College student.  She is one of the young women and men who will entertain at the Helping Hands Around the World.  This fundraiser is for the Samaritan House, a community organization that assists people with needs for shelter and food. It will be held at the UWC.

Samaritan House and the Cold Weather Shelter serve mostly local people. Usually the people in need have lost jobs, gotten into addictions like alcoholism or suffered family break-down problems and/or mental or physical illness.

The shelter is located at two churches in Las Vegas: the First Presbyterian Church on Douglas Street and the St. Paul’s Peace Episcopal-Lutheran at National and Eighth Street. These two congregations answered the call when Samaritan House could not find a site for their shelter program. The willingness of the two churches to be good Samaritans is greatly appreciated by the six to 10 nightly homeless guests.

Martha Johnsen, well-known radio personality and school principal at the West Las Vegas’ Family Partnership, will be Master of Ceremonies for the Helping Hands event.  International cuisine, musical dance and theatrical performances, an “outrageous auction” of presumably outrageous items, and a good Samaritan award to a special individual are all part of the evening’s festivities. International cuisine and cultural dance and musical performance will the heart of the event. One highlight is a student choir that will perform Michael Jackson’s song, “Healing the World.”

Many UWC students and have seen homelessness and hunger in their own countries. In some cases, the government provides shelter and food. In other cases, religious organizations shoulder most of this responsibility.  Student Laura Patores said, “In the Philippines it’s frequently religious organizations that help, mostly Catholics and Evangelicals.”

Student Lynn Theprungsirikuol said, “In Thailand the Buddhists do much of this kind of work.” Also, the king and queen of Thailand are responsible to care about these problems and find solutions.

Families are sometimes moved to special facilities so they can work and live together.  This prevents their homelessness or breakup. She also said that Buddhist teachings help people deal with the problems of life because they focus on moderation in all things, even happiness. Buddhist teachers tell people to avoid extremes and to meditate on problems, she said.

Laura Angeline Pastores said, “Awareness of the situation is very important. This program will make people realize the truth about homelessness and hunger. Maybe that will start something.”  Luke Brennan from Canada, also a UWC student, said, “What we’re doing is kind of the reverse of expecting the government to do everything.  One community goes out to do something together.”

Brennan’s home town of Calgary has recently gone through some difficulties.  “Calgary is a big oil city,” he said. The disparity between the rich and poor has widened because of the profits made in oil in the last few years. People with some of their resources in oil got much richer but other people fell into poverty.  Brennan said that he helped feed more than 900 people on Boxing Day (the day after Christmas) in one of the five or six shelters now open in Calgary. Housing prices in his hometown went up as much as 300 percent making housing almost un-affordable by many. He also commented that many of the corporations have been very generous.

Commitment and a mission to promote world understanding and peace is the heart and foundation of the United World College, and the students and staff of the UWC are enthusiastic about taking on fund-raising for the homeless of Las Vegas.

Tickets are $20 per person or $10 for children under 18.  They can be purchased at Tito’s Gallery, Tome on the Range, Semilla Natural Foods or at the door.  Sponsor packages are available (call Sharon Seto at 454-4206).

Student “helping hands” will be making the international cuisine, the music and dance and other “outrageous” entertainment. Don’t miss this opportunity to be a Good Samaritan and also to have a fun evening out tonight.