Each year, over 500 people sleep outside in solidarity with youth facing homelessness by participating in the Spectrum Sleep Out. This year we asked one of our returning participants why she chooses to sleep out.
Ilka Pritchard is the team captain for Social Sentinel’s Sleep Out team and has been participating in the Sleep Out for the last 5 years. She also recently won the Vermont Everyday Hero award from American Red Cross.
Why do you Sleep Out?
It is such a simple thing for me to be able to sleep out in “discomfort” for one night, so that some of our local youth has access to many amazing services to help them live the life they deserve.
What was it like your first year?
My first year was a little scary, but once I was downstairs in the church basement hearing from a Spectrum participant all of that quickly dissipated. I knew from the moment that they started talking that I would do this for as many years as I am able. It is such a worthy cause.
What’s the hardest part of the event for you?
I’m lucky in that I’m usually able to sleep. However, the next day is TOUGH! But to know that this is the normal life for some kids that live this day in and day out? Worth it every time.
What is one of the most meaningful moments for you?
Mark is such a wonderful mentor for these kids, as well as the participants of the sleep out. He genuinely cares so much about everyone associated with the program and it shows in every interaction he has. I love watching him be proud of those that have the bravery to stand up and share their story. He is a true inspiration.