In Loving Memory of Jesse Smith, Jr.
Jesse Smith, Jr., tireless advocate, loving friend, father and son; passed away in early May 2012. Jesse will be missed by his colleagues at NCH, read more about how he touched our lives on the Bring America Home Blog. Below is Jesse's Faces of Homelessness Speakers' Bureau biography:
Born and raised in DC, Jesse attended Dunbar High School and later attended Federal City College/University of the District of Columbia, where he attained a BA in Sociology with a minor in Urban Planning. He then took graduate classes in economics at the University of Maryland. During and after school, Jesse worked as a Systems Engineer for a large telecommunications firm, and as a consultant.
After his wife divorced him, Jesse went into a severe depression. He abandoned his job and left DC for Philadelphia, where he attempted to establish a new life. Unsuccessful, he moved to New Jersey where he attained employment at a major psychiatric institute, but after ten months, unable to attain permanent housing and still battling chronic depression, he left that job and drifted around the mid-atlantic region for about two years before returning to Washington.
Eventually, Jesse became a resident of Franklin Shelter. Prior to this he had little exposure to other homeless men, and he found the situation, "extremely frightening, almost unbearable." However, another resident helped him to learn the ropes, and through that friendship he was able to regain a measure of stability.
The deciding moment in Jesse's life was the impending closure of the shelter, which the city had decided to lease to a developer. Jesse was able to use his knowledge and background to help organize the residents against the city's plan. Not only was he successful, but also through the experience Jesse found a new purpose in life.
Today, Jesse works with Americorps VISTA, and as an office manager at Street Sense, a homeless community newspaper, which allows him to work with the homeless and continue the struggle to alleviate the social conditions of the disenfranchised which cause homelessness in America.
If you would like to learn more about Jesse and his story of homelessness, please click here.