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The WIU Marketing Club partnered with Samaritan Well, Macomb's homeless shelter, to host an overnight event to raise funds and awareness for the shelter.
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Macomb Mayor Mike Inman (back row, far left) poses with members of the WIU Marketing Club, Jimmy Pierson, Camryn Lynn, Willieka Moore and Soloman Hamm, WIU Marketing Club Advisor Donna Wiencek (front row, far right) and Executive Director of Samaritan Well Danielle Barnes and members of her staff.
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WIU Marketing Club Raises Awareness and Funds for Local Homeless Shelter

November 20, 2019

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MACOMB, IL - - Audrey Hepburn said, "As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands: one for helping yourself, the other for helping others." Students in the Western Illinois University Marketing Club recently demonstrated this as they partnered with Samaritan Well, Inc., the Macomb men's and women's homeless shelter, to raise money and awareness.

On Dec. 3, the WIU Marketing Club will present $1,000 and donated clothing to Samaritan Well, which was received during their Sleep Out for the Homeless event held in early November.

Macomb Mayor Mike Inman was present to address the prevalence of homelessness in most cities, including Macomb. Inman thanked the WIU Marketing Club for their work with Samaritan Well.

"What a perfect partnership you have created between students, faculty, the University and the community to raise awareness and get the word out, and I can't tell you how much we appreciate that and how important it is to all of us in Macomb," Inman said.

During the overnight event, there were various activities that took place. Former resident of the Samaritan Well shelter, and current house manager of the men's shelter, George Allison gave a testimonial to the group explaining that homelessness can happen to anyone.

"Nobody in this room is immune from being homeless," Allison said. "There is no difference between me and any man who has come into the men's shelter that I help with. I was raised in North Carolina, and I come from a middle-class family. My father is retired military and my mother is retired from the Tobacco industry. I'm a veteran who went into the military at a young age; traveled overseas and saw the world. I came back and got married. I was part of the middle class and a contributing member of society, and I had a three bedroom, two bath ranch out in the country. I ran a successful electric contracting business for almost 20 years. During the 2008 financial crisis, I lost every customer I had. All my customers who were living in $20 million homes were now living in pop up campers. I managed to hang on but eventually it was a trickle-down effect. I couldn't even make my own mortgage payment, and I had to let go of all my employees. I found myself homeless. It can happen to anyone in this room."

Danielle Barnes, executive director of Samaritan Well, also spoke to the group and explained that often homelessness is complicated by many other problems.

"Imagine having to sleep outside all night in weather like our fall or winters we have here. And then, the next day, you get up and you're going to have to find out where your food is coming from. Maybe you have a child, and you're going to have to figure out what your child is going to eat. Does your child have adequate clothing? Maybe you have a job interview. Where are you going to take a shower to get cleaned up," Barnes said.

Samaritan Well is a transitional homeless shelter for men and women where the average stay is three-six months. However, they also provide services and assistance to residents to help them continue their education, train for better employment, plan for their future of independent living, gain necessary skills for job seeking and keeping and budget money.

"Specific things we help with might include filling out housing applications, which can be very lengthy and often are found online; helping to manage food stamps; taking the residents to clothing banks and linking them with counseling services, among other things," Barnes said. "Sometimes, our residents are dealing with abusive situations, where we help provide legal services or emergency orders of protection."

"We are grateful for having an opportunity to help Samaritan Well and blessed with all the support and contributions we received. Our efforts to raise awareness of Samaritan Well and the work they do was the largest promotional event they ever had," said Donna Wiencek, assistant professor of marketing and marketing club advisor. "On behalf of the WIU Marketing Club, we would like to thank everyone who was involved with our fundraising efforts."

For more information on WIU's Marketing program, visit

Posted By: Alisha Looney (
Office of University Communications & Marketing