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A sign of the convention times

Posted at 5:54 PM on August 13, 2008 by Tim Nelson (0 Comments)

Ironically enough, Father John Estrem announced a new public awareness campaign for the homeless underneath a freeway overpass this morning.

The Catholic Charities CEO started out in the shadow of the Interstate 94 bridge over the Bruce Vento trail at the south end of Swede Hollow in St. Paul. The bridge piers, by the way, are fenced off to keep people from living under them.

The site was right below a billboard Catholic Charities put up, calling for "food, shelter and dignity."

billboard-1.JPGSo how much food, shelter and dignity would a billboard buy, anyway?

I asked Estrem today, after he wrapped up the Q&A about the month-long campaign that would coincide with the Republican National Convention.

Catholic Charities officials wouldn't talk about the dollars and cents of the project, but Estrem said it was worth doing.

"We do believe its worth the money, because of how it raises the dialog, and helps us to engage a whole lot more people, some of whom become donors, quite frankly," Estrem said. "But, you know, [outdoor advertising company] Clear Channel was very good to us, gave us a very nice discount. All of the art work was donated by some of our friends, so the cost really wasn't that high. Not nearly as high as some people might think it is. And how it raises the dialog is really important."

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