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Brad Barnett Brad Barnett: Finding Room in Your Heart For the Homeless May 1, 2001-- When passing by the homeless on the street, most people avert their eyes. But Brad Barnett has chosen to see, to listen and to try to help.

Barnett, 21, a third-year student at the University of Virginia, spent many hours as a volunteer at On Our Own Drop-In Center, a shelter for homeless men and women in Charlottesville, during his first year of college. Impressed by the scope of needs of the center’s clients, he founded CavsCare, a group of U.Va. students who also wanted to help at the shelter.

"Whenever we see social ills, we put them into a separate category to deal with them, we erect barriers between them and us," Barnett said. "This eases our guilt and pain. My goal was to break down those barriers."

To better understand the lives of Charlottesville’s homeless, Barnett, from Clifton, Va., interviewed several men and women and gathered essays and art work into a collection titled, "shelter from the storm: a candid view of life and homelessness in Charlottesville."

Barnett’s work with the homeless was a major factor in his recent selection as a Truman Scholar, according to the Harry S. Truman Foundation. The Truman Foundation each year grants 70 scholarships of $30,000 to promising college juniors nationwide to help them pay for their last year of college.

Because Barnett is graduating a year early, he will be allowed to apply the scholarship funds to graduate school. Barnett is the 20th U.Va. student to win a Truman Scholarship.

As an Echols scholar, Barnett examined questions about homelessness and the human condition through an interdisciplinary program that included classes in anthropology, philosophy, religion and English. He also completed the prerequisites for medical school.

Barnett, who will graduate this May -- a year early thanks to summer-school classes and AP credits -- is planning to pursue a career in medicine and would like to continue his work with homeless people in some way -- or treat children battling cancer.

Contact: Charlotte Crystal, (804) 924-6858

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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