NCH aims to create a national network of dedicated homeless advocates; read how intern Katherine is working to expand that network and why your Membership Matters to her work:
I am an Advocacy Fellow from the Bonner Foundation at the National Coalition for the Homeless. I am currently working on a project to create a program called Homeless People Action Network (HPAN). This is an initial organizing effort to connect existing local homeless-led advocacy groups and to create new local advocacy groups in different states and cities around the country. In other words, NCH wants to help people experiencing homelessness around the country to organize and congregate. We want to see less duplication of homeless advocacy groups and more collaboration among existing groups.
Ideally, these advocacy groups would be comprised of currently or formerly homeless people so that they could have the most authentic, direct voice for their concerns. Once these advocacy groups have been formed, the purpose of HPAN is to connect all of these advocacy groups into a central, independent, collaborative, national network that can act as a community and a guide for those seeking help and services. NCH would initially provide leadership training and support for HPAN groups. Once HPAN is formed and functioning independently, NCH would remain as an affiliate and resource center.
HPAN is a call for the homeless to be their own advocates. Membership in NCH would be greatly beneficial to the HPAN movement because it would increase public awareness and provide the funds for a greater range for outreach across the country. Membership in NCH not only extends to donors, but to people experiencing homelessness, for free. NCH can refer homeless members to their local HPAN groups to receive the support they need.
I am so lucky to be a summer intern. I feel as if I was waiting to do this kind of work for a long time. I am learning so much, since it is my first real job outside of my involvement in direct community service. Working here gives young adult students the chance to increase their awareness on social issues and policy, and to build upon skills such as research, event planning, and public relations.