Giving the Homeless “The Talk”

Morgan Watkins is a senior at the University of Florida. During WWFF11 she spent time with COSAC founder Sean Cononie, getting to know him, and writing a profile about his accomplishments.

Two residents got a lecture about safe sex from Sean Cononie.
Photo by Christine Capozziello

On my first night at Will Write for Food 2011, I found myself standing in a room listening to the founder of the COSAC homeless shelter, Sean Cononie, as he tried to persuade two residents to use condoms if they decided to have sex with each other – or else risk getting HIV or having an unplanned pregnancy.

I was floored by how hands-on Cononie was with his residents. I mean, talking about safe sex is uncomfortable when your parents talk to you about it as a teenager, so I can’t imagine how awkward it must be to get “The Talk” from the man who runs the homeless shelter you’re staying at while a bunch of reporters listen in on the conversation.

I spent the next day hanging out with Cononie all day, and the chance to see firsthand how he handles his residents’ problems was very eye-opening.

Before I came here to the COSAC shelter, I had an impression of homeless shelters as places where people in need of a place to sleep could stop simply to get a mat to lie down on and a warm meal in their bellies.

I never imagined that a place like COSAC could exist – a place that, while definitely imperfect, is a home for many of its residents.

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