WMU-Cooley Law students aid Lansing homeless

Mable Martin Scott remembers coming in to work on Sunday morning during the winter and walking by a person lying on the heat vent. She saw him a lot. Many times she called the police. Soon she realized he was among the homeless who gathered in the park across the street, lining the benches and finding warmth anyway they could.

Martin-Scott was moved by the stark contrast between her life at Western Michigan University-Cooley Law School and that of the people taking shelter in Lansing's Reutter Park. And that's why, she says, she gave her full support when the Student Bar Association came to her with a concept for working with a street-based outreach group in Lansing.

In November, members of WMU-Cooley's SBA visited Reutter Park to deliver items they have collected for Cardboard Prophets. Those items consisted of all sizes of clothing, particularly winter outerwear like hats, gloves, coats and boots. Martin-Scott was among the administrators who joined the students as they presented donations to Cardboard Prophet volunteers.

"When we were carrying over the bags, a couple homeless individuals approached us," Martin-Scott says. "One person opened a bag and asked if he could take a pair of socks. He didn't have any. Just seeing how you have an immediate impact like that makes you want to do more."

Student organizer and SBA class director Lemontre Taylor says the winter clothing drive is the first of many efforts the group plans on behalf of the Cardboard Prophets. Eager to do community service activities and events, the SBA struck upon the support of the homeless. The association placed a drop box in the lobby for students, staff and administrators to donate new and used clothing, blankets and other personal goods.

"We go over and take things most every week," says Taylor. "We engage in conversation. We show them we care. We want to do the best for them that we can."

Taylor says the SBA is also committed to helping increase the visibility of the Cardboard Prophets which was founded in early fall 2017 by homeless advocate Mike Karl. Plans include making and providing business cards for Cardboard Prophet volunteers, and enlisting Karl to speak at an upcoming WMU-Cooley community event.

"When it comes to outreach, we want to give back to the community as future lawyers and leaders," says Taylor. "When we see the homeless, we see other human beings in need. If we can help them and help get them back on track, that's our goal as a member of this community."

Source: Mable Martin Scott, Assistant Dean, WMU-Cooley Law School
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor

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