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Posts Tagged ‘Advocacy’

Summer is Heating Up: Meet NCH’s New Interns!

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Advocacy

AllisonAlison Dinmore is a third year law student at the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law working on her J.D. and a certificate in Public Law and Policy with a concentration in Housing Law.
“Through my experiences volunteering in legal aid clinics, numerous homeless shelters, a low-income, medical treatment facility, and non-profit policy firms, I have seen that often unavoidable circumstances can force an individual or their family into the state of homelessness. I believe that members of the legal profession not only have a moral imperative to do everything in our power to prevent homelessness from occurring, but also to ensure that it no longer continues to adversely affect society’s better interests. I chose to intern with NCH this summer because it is uniquely positioned at the national level to provide homeless individuals with opportunities they lack to empower them to help themselves, as well as affect broader-reaching change through education and advocacy. I intend to continue learning more about policy and causes of homelessness so that upon my completion of law school, I will be better equipped to help create and implement real and lasting solutions to end and prevent homelessness from occurring.”

Jake Walters is a junior at Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts, studying Sociology and History.
Growing up in the suburbs I always felt sheltered and unaware of the world around me. After taking a few sociology classes in college I felt that I had gained some deeper understanding of society, but this was only through books and in a classroom. This internship, or probably any, can’t truly give me first-hand knowledge of the inequalities many people deal with, but it’s a practical step into a world where I can help the people who I have read so much about. It’s a way for me to see the world in a new light and to further my understanding of how society grants privileges to some and not to others. The reality is for everything I can do to help homeless individuals there is just as much that they can do to help me see the world in a more realistic light, and interning with the National Coalition for the Homeless will allow me to help myself just as much as it will allow me to help others.

Jesica Ray is a junior at Dickinson College, located outside of Pennsylvania. She is a Law & Policy major.
“I have lived in New Jersey my entire life and was always too afraid to look at the world outside of my comfortable hometown. I would say my life has been pretty sheltered, and most notably, safe. However, last summer I worked at Lacoste in the Atlantic City Outlets in NJ and was shocked by the reality of what I learned in school or read on the news. Who knew that just 5 miles outside of my home, there was a world of poverty, homelessness, and pain! Long story short, I met a homeless woman named Joanne*, who showed me that homelessness is not a choice and that they are people just like you and I. For this reason, among many, I am now at the National Coalition for the Homeless, and will dedicate my time researching and issues surrounding homeless youth.”

Katherine Nguyen is a rising sophomore at the Rutgers Camden School of Nursing in Camden, NJ, and is also the Homeless Advocacy Fellow from the Bonner Foundation.
“My primary project at the National Coalition for the Homeless is an initiative called Homeless People Action Networks (HPAN). I will be reaching out to state and city homeless coalitions around the country to create advocacy groups completely comprised of currently or formerly homeless people so that these advocacy groups can have the most authentic voices for their concerns. The purpose of HPAN is to connect all of these advocacy groups into a central, collaborative network that can act as a guide for those seeking help and services. This is an initial organizing effort on behalf of the NCH, and ultimately the hope is that HPAN will continue to run independently after the project is off the ground and running.”

Kelsi Sullivan is a senior at The College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. She is a Religious Studies major and an Asian Studies concentrator.
“I could not think of a better place to be this summer than amidst people who are passionate about what they do and committed to making a visible difference in the world. Homelessness is something that could happen to anyone and it is important to give a voice to those who are traditionally voiceless. This summer, I hope to learn the different ways in which we can prevent homelessness and create viable solutions for the future that will end homelessness all together. Theologian Ellie Wiesel once said: ‘The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.’ So, in a world full of indifference, its time to be an active citizen dedicated to making positive change for those who need it most.”

Lauren Karl is a senior at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa. where she is studying History, Political Science and Values, Ethics and Social Action.
“I have always been interested in how service, advocacy and activism are connected. The National Coalition for the Homeless is amazingly dedicated to the people they serve, not only as individuals, but also as part of a larger movement. This summer I will have the chance to act not only as an advocate, but also encourage others to advocate for themselves. It is through this second action that I believe real change can occur; once a person is empowered to speak on their own behalf they are far more likely to successful achieve their goals. I am very excited to be here for the summer and am confident my experience will be phenomenal.”

Sahana Malik is a senior at the University of Michigan studying political science and psychology.
“Growing up in a small economically-depressed town in Ohio, I was able to see on an intimate level what it means to struggle for money. Some of the people I personally knew were facing problems obtaining basic necessities for survival. Although these people were not homeless, they lived with the fear of possibly becoming homeless. I firmly believe not enough is being done today to help people living on the streets of America, and I want my generation to spur a change. As an activist looking to specialize in human rights law, I wanted to work for the National Coalition for the Homeless in order to contribute to the efforts to protect the civil liberties of the homeless. I am privileged to be given the opportunity to turn my passion into action.”

Marc McCue is a Summer VISTA volunteer from Anaheim, California.
“I am happy to be working as an intern with the National Coalition for the Homeless because homelessness is a very personal subject for me. I spend two years of my life sleeping in abandoned houses, warehouses and bus benches. With the help of public and private organizations I was given a place to live and the opportunity to recreate my life. I believe no matter what the reason for homelessness is everybody deserves a safe place to call home. NCH is working on a national level to help provide housing for many individuals and families. It is an honor to be working with the National Coalition for the Homeless and doing my part to not only provide shelter to those who are already homeless, but to eliminate homelessness altogether.”

Meghana Sthanam is a rising junior at Vanderbilt University studying Neuroscience and Cellular and Molecular Biology.
“Coming from Birmingham, Alabama, I’ve personally become very aware of the plight of homelessness in the city. For the past several years, I’ve done scientific research in a laboratory, but this summer I wanted to somehow more directly benefit the community. So I turned to the National Coalition for the Homeless, an organization I saw that has clearly enacted so much change nationwide. At home and at school, I became cognizant of the less fortunate around me, even though I live in the affectionately termed ‘Vanderbubble’ and it became more difficult to passively allow such injustices to occur so close to me. I am so thankful to be part of such a commendable advocacy group. I am very passionate about my project on LGBT homelessness, and I hope that my summer here will make an impact!”

Zach Stone is a sophomore at Colorado College studying political science and religion.
“I’m from Bethesda, MD and have lived in the greater DC area all my life. Here at NCH, I am primarily working with the Faces of Homelessness Speakers’ Bureau, a program that consists of individuals who have experienced homelessness first hand.  These individuals give presentations across the country, sharing their experiences and expressing what they believe can be done to combat the injustice that is homelessness. I was driven to come work for NCH because of their ongoing reputation as a non-profit committed to achieving their goals. I knew, as an intern at NCH, I would be given the opportunity to do real hands on work and make a visible impact on the surrounding community.”

And check out this post (Part 1 and Part 2) by Taylor Southall, a Summer AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer working through NCH’s program at the Community Council for the Homeless at Friendship Place.

In Memory of Roosevelt Darby Jr.

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

It is with great sadness that we again mourn the loss of a great advocate for people experiencing homelessness, and a great friend of the National Coalition for the Homeless.  Roosevelt Darby spent 20 years working to end homelessness, serving as an NCH Board Member for over 10 years, actively serving on the Executive Committee.  Recently, Roosevelt had shared his talents with the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, and had been featured in an NCH video talking about his experience with homelessness.  Roosevelt and his compassionate friendship will be greatly missed.

Here, a few of the current NCH Staff and Board Members share their memories of Roosevelt:

As NCH’s longtime community organizer, I first came into contact with Roosevelt Darby, Jr. in 1992.   He was active in a number of our projects ranging from voter registration, civil rights, to establishing a statewide homeless coalition.

His special focus was working with single homeless men having substance abuse issues.   He was also adept in motivational public speaking, advocacy, and community organizing.

Due in large part to Roosevelt Darby, NCH became more focused on doing community organizing work at the grassroots level.

-Michael Stoops, Washington, DC

I remember Roosevelt’s time with us with warm and gentle thoughts.  When we had the TA grant I went to Pennsylvania at his request to help organize his Board and staff.  It was a wonderful three day retreat and the first and only time I have ever been to Hershey, Pennsylvania.  Roosevelt got someone to take me there as the retreat wasn’t far away.  His passion and his life experience made for a wonderfully humane approach to housing the homeless and truly building community.  He will be missed by his family, his NCH family, his friends, and most by those he served.

-Barbara Anderson, Indiana

During the years Roosevelt spent with us on the Board, we joked about wanting to work together some day.  Then one day he called me from Philly and asked if I had been serious.  He came to Atlanta and ran our Recovery Program for nearly two years, leaving only because we had no more funding for the program and no ability to pay staff at all.

During those two years Roosevelt worked his gentle, straightforward magic with amazing and steady results that left us with leaders who have continued his work with themselves and have helped us continue that Recovery Program, which they call The Buddy System.

Roosevelt shared himself, his heart and his journey, with each person he coached into sobriety.  We are better people and a better place because of Roosevelt’s time with us, and his legacy lives on in the lives of the men.

-Anita Beaty, Georgia

Roosevelt Darby was leader. He fought the demons of poverty his whole life. He fought his way off the streets and away from drugs.

He didn’t mind talking about his life. He was cautious yet quick with a smile if something resonated with his experiences.

There came a time in his life that he came to realize that poverty had been imposed upon him and so so many others. He became a Tax Day Captain and a Bridge Captain for the Universal Living Wage. He told the truth to anyone who would listen. He became a street warrior justice.

He was a gentle man. He’s gone home now.

Thank you Roosevelt for reaching back. Thank you Jesus for sharing this kind soul with us.

-Richard Troxell, Texas

Roosevelt was a true friend and absolute warrior for people experiencing homelessness.  He will be greatly missed.  My thoughts and prayers are with his family and the city of Philadelphia.

-Donald Whitehead, Florida

I join all others in grief. Do give thanks to God for having met Roosevelt, and will pray that he keeps on helping us on our struggle for justice.

-Glorin Ruiz Patush, Puerto Rico

Brian Davis of Cleveland, OH also offers this reflection on working with Roosevelt.

Please read more about Roosevelt’s in this nice article from the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Homelessness is not a minor problem

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

As our Executive Director Neil Donovan said in a “Traveling with Neil” video recently, homelessness cannot be solved by targeting sub-populations. However, they may provide volunteers, spectators, and politicians with a multidimensional view or homelessness beyond what stigmas or preconceived notions exist.

All sub-populations of people who become homeless experience the same needs: affordable housing, living wages, and proper protection of their civil rights. This goes for homeless youth, especially. According to the National Center on Family Homelessness’ 2011 Report “America’s Youngest Outcasts,” the population of homeless children has increased by over a third since 2007, with the hardest hit areas being the rural South and California.

It’s no question that families are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population, especially since the recession. Along with family and all other growing kinds of homelessness, where does “youth” fit in?

Many educational statutes define a ‘child’ as being under the age of 18. Many children become homeless with their families. But another large group of under-18-year-olds find themselves homeless and with no family support.

Luckily there are many shelters and safe housing programs that do great work to ameliorate homelessness, although many define “youth” differently. Many youth shelters across the country, such as Aarti Hotel and El Rescate, can only hold youth until 24. The Homeless Youth Coalition classifies youth to a lesser range of 18-23 years old.  First Steps for Youth helps an even small youth range: 16-18 years old, including minors.

Still, after the age of 18, legal adulthood, a homeless person is still homeless. So where does youth end? Better yet, when does youth homelessness end?

I think those are the wrong questions. The right question is where does homelessness end? For a 17 year old,  we can combat homelessness by keeping them in school, giving them the resources to learning trade, helping them find and keep a job that pays a living wage, and making housing—both urban and rural—affordable. These are the same things that contributed to the 12% drop in homeless veterans last year. Why? Because they are proven to work for everybody.

Homelessness has many faces, and the youth of America are unfortunately among them. The good news is no new plans need to be drawn up specifically for the youth. We can still bring America home with housing justice, economic justice, and health care justice –by fulfilling the NCH mission statement:

To prevent and end homelessness while ensuring the immediate needs of those experiencing homelessness are met and their civil rights protected.

-Jose Morales, NCH Spring 2012 Intern

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