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Why Membership Matters to Joe Finn

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Advocacy, Awareness, Speakers' Bureau

As the president and executive director of the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance and a member of the Board of Directors at NCH, Joe Finn strongly believes in the power of an individual’s story. Mr. Finn’s Membership Matters because he supports NCH as an organization that gives homeless and formerly homeless citizens a platform to speak their minds and become advocates.

How did you first become involved with the National Coalition for the Homeless? In what ways do you continue to be involved with the Coalition? 

I first became involved in NCH through the outreach and advocacy of the Executive Director, Neil Donovan.  I wish to continue with my governance responsibility as a board member and I want to stay engaged in focusing NCH’s representing an authentic voice for homeless persons.

How do you interact with NCH? In what ways do you benefit from your membership at NCH?

I interact with NCH first and foremost as a member of the board. I hope I am assisting the CEO and staff toward implementing a broader vision that represents an authentic voice for persons who are or have experienced homelessness. My greatest benefit has been as a VISTA project host site.  The Speakers Bureau has limitless potential in developing the leadership capacity of homeless and formerly homeless persons in affecting real social change as it relates to homelessness.

To support the Faces of Homelessness Speakers’ Bureau and other NCH VISTA projects nationwide, become a member of NCH today! (click here for more information)

Why Membership Matters to Steve Thomas:

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Advocacy, Speakers' Bureau

Steve Thomas is a member of NCH’s Faces of Homelessness Speakers Bureau and an active advocate for the rights of homeless citizens. Read his story and hear why Membership Matters to him:

“I first became involved with NCH almost five years ago. After being addicted to drugs and alcohol for forty years and having had that lead to my living on the streets of DC, homeless, for almost two years, an outreach worker found me and got me into treatment. While undergoing treatment, I was introduced to a speaker from NCH that introduced me to the organization. Immediately I realized that NCH respected me as a human being. That my past addiction issues and homelessness didn’t matter in my assessment as a person. I learned that we all had a story, and that the telling of that story of my addiction leading to homelessness could be used to educate the public. To put a face to homelessness was an essential tool in the war to end homelessness. What I didn’t know or expect was the boost to my self-esteem (which had been very low my entire life) and the first time feeling of self-worth.

NCH ignited and fueled my passion for homeless advocacy. NCH taught me to be self respectful and to expect that of others. The last five years of being a member of NCH and being a speaker with the NCH “Faces of Homelessness” Speakers Bureau has made me a better person, a more concerned person, a more informed person and a more caring person. All this has allowed me to be a forceful advocate for the homeless, THE FORGOTTEN CITIZENS.”

Find your voice and support men and women like Steve by joining NCH and make your Membership Matter!

Homelessness: An Issue of Convenience Impacting Others

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Outreach, Speakers' Bureau

Yesterday evening, NCH hosted an event called “Can You Hear Us?” outdoors in Shevchenko Park, in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, DC . Four members of our Speaker’s Bureau presented their personal stories and advice to a group of young, well-engaged activists.

Each speaker addressed a different issue. David Pirtle began the event by talking about the violence he faced simply because he was homeless. T. Sanders inspired us all to advocate for an issue we feel passionate about. She chose to advocate for at-risk youth; this was due to the fact that she herself was in such a position. John Harrison, addressed the derogatory manor in which he was treated because of his appearance as a “bum.” Lastly, Steve Thomas discussed how one wrong decision can lead to the path of homelessness. Even at 51 years old, Steve said all he needed was his “mommy,” someone to care for him and encourage him to keep going.

While inspired, I was initially disappointed that on the surface, the mission of this event appeared to be unfulfilled. Though the speakers were clearly audible even over the bustling of traffic, they were not truly heard by the many people who chose to walk by. As our last speaker Steve Thomas said, “Homelessness is a matter of convenience for other people.” It was not convenient for most people to come to such an event when more exciting activities than a discussion on homelessness were taking place.  Homelessness is only “convenient” when it personally touches you.

Inevitably, the next question that came to my mind was how do we get this issue to touch others. I realized however, that the answer was to continue doing exactly what we had done. While this event may not have touched many, it transformed the way of thinking for those who attended.

After the event, one member of the audience told me,

“You really grabbed my attention. I have a completely different impression about homelessness than I did before and I would like to become more involved with this issue. Your organization and these speakers have made a great impact today.”

It was then that I understood: while it would have been wonderful if hundreds of people came to this event, our organization was still able to influence at least one person. This one person will in turn influence another person, and one will eventually turn into hundreds. A major goal of our organization is to inspire others to take action and yesterday, we did just that.

A special thanks must once again be given to our four wonderful speakers, without whom, we would not be able to effectively carry out NCH’s mission.

By Sahana Malik

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