Bears’ Beat Report: Feature Report – Daybreak


Devyn Mode: Hi, I’m Devyn Mode with Mercer University’s Bear’s Beat. This week, I talked to Dr. Charlie Thomas about the work her classes are doing in the community.

Charlotte Thomas: I’m Charlie Thomas. I teach philosophy and Great Book here at Mercer. I’ve taught Intro to Ethics many, many times in 25 years at Mercer. And I think ethics is an incredible important thing for students to study, but it’s difficult to teach that class in a way that doesn’t feel abstract and kind of removed from real decisions that people make and that ethical education, ethical judgement, might really be useful for.

Devyn Mode: Fifty ethics students and fifteen preceptors are working on about a dozen projects at Daybreak, a resource for those struggling with housing insecurity and homelessness.

Charlotte Thomas: In order for people to, I think, really be able to think about the ethical value of some activity, of something their doing, there has to be an element of choice involved. Aristotle is really clear about this, that the things that we do involuntarily, it’s not that they are not relevant, but they don’t go to character in the same way as the things we do deliberately.

We brought in Gaye Martel, the volunteer coordinator at Daybreak to talk about what Daybreak does and then I gave the students quite a bit of time, about almost a month, to learn about Daybreak, to think about housing insecurity, to think about the different things they did, and to either individually or in groups, design a project that would benefit Daybreak, according to Daybreak, it had to be something that Daybreak wanted them to do, but that followed from their education, or talents or backgrounds or interests. Some way to find an intersection between something that they cared about, or a particular talent or skill that they thought they had and the needs of Daybreak.

There’s a woman who is a licensed cosmetologist who is actually giving services to the women at Daybreak. There’s a group doing a mural for Daybreak, it’s pretty interesting. There’s another group that’s kind of throwing a big tailgate party, just a lot of interesting things that they are excited to do.

Often people are one bad thing happening away from being a partner at Daybreak and I think the students found that moving.