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Posts Tagged ‘Interns’

Welcome our Summer Interns

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Advocacy

Summer is in full swing and our interns are hard at work! From co-coordinating our National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week to cataloging our in-house library, these students are actively learning and contributing to NCH’s work. Get to know our interns and what has driven them to stand against homelessness.

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Intern - Brian
Brian Brazeau
Senior, College of the Holy Cross
Political Science and Italian
“I have lived in the same city in Rhode Island for most of my life and never took the opportunity to witness the suffering of those around me. While I worked for my local congressman last summer, I began to hear the stories of those impoverished in my local district, but still took very little direct action to help the situation.  During my junior year, I studied abroad in Bologna, Italy, finally leaving my New England safety net for the first time. However, what I did not realize was that I would be directly witnessing those who were truly suffering from homelessness and poverty. Throughout the day, I would see people panhandling for money and at night, the same people would be sleeping under doorways and on public benches. It was sad to know that many had been suffering in Europe and, after having been in DC, to know that there are many suffering here in our own nation.

“Now as an intern for NCH, I hope to do all I can to help those who are suffering from homelessness through my work on the Homeless Bill of Rights. While it will not completely eradicate homelessness, I believe it will be the first step in gaining collective action to provide equal rights to all who are homeless.”

 

Intern - Liz

Elizabeth Jo Mason
2nd Year, University of Maryland College Park
Masters of Library and Information Science
“Living in Baltimore, Maryland most of my life, I have always been aware of the struggle of homeless people around me. I have passed by many people in the city who needed money or otherwise looked like they were in need of shelter. However, I did not think to do something about it until a friend from high school was personally stricken with homelessness.

“I chose to become a Cataloging Intern at NCH because it would allow me to become more directly involved in the process of educating homeless people and making a difference in their lives while gaining more cataloging experience for my Masters of Library and Information Science degree.”

Intern - Keith
Keith Meyer
Junior, Allegheny College
Political Science and Philosophy
“I have always felt inspired to engage with the world through a more objective standpoint than merely my own. I had overlooked the perspectives and lives of those experiencing homelessness for too long, which is an issue that remains discrete if existent at all in my small, rural hometown. The internship offers a unique way to engage with this and also interact with our country’s political framework as a basis for institutional change.”

Intern - Sylvia
Sylvia Precht-Rodriguez
Junior, Vanderbilt University
Political Science
“Active citizenship includes addressing the inescapable and mounting issue of homelessness in our nation. This lesson I have learned from my upbringing in Brooklyn, New York and teachings at Vanderbilt University. This summer I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by the staff of the National Coalition for the Homeless who are dedicating years of their lives to alleviating the conditions of those who do not have homes. My role as a Research Fellow, and the work to publish the 2012 Hate Crimes Report Against the Homeless, will hopefully advance their efforts of which I am just beginning to understand. I am learning and I am being humbled by my time here.”

A Night of Outreach and Learning

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Outreach

Last Monday night, I arrived at the “Homeless Count” organized by the Downtown DC Business Improvement District (BID), nervous and excited to participate in a direct service activity, after a month and a half into my research and advocacy internship with NCH.

Volunteers were given a brief orientation session and were divided into groups, my group was assigned an area in the heart of Chinatown. We were given a map, a flashlight, several outreach service information cards, and some questionnaires. We were instructed to locate people who were experiencing homelessness, pinpoint their location on our map, ask them the questions on the questionnaire, and give them a service outreach card so they would be aware of the services available to them in D.C.

Being new to the count, I decided to sit back and watch how my fellow group members would approach people who were homeless. It seemed straight-forward, they would approach someone, introduce the organization we were with and explain how this homeless count was meant to help them.

At first, it seemed like our introduction made sense, we were helping them, right? However, I quickly began to wonder if I was helping them at all. We were demanding these people’s time, late at night, asking them personal questions, and I couldn’t help but wonder: what was I actually giving them? The only thing we had to physically give out was the outreach services information card that listed services these people might have already known about.

Feeling that I was not really doing anything of value for the homeless, we approached a an older gentleman, who made it clear to me what I should have been doing all along. The man, we’ll call him Jackson, was a Vietnam veteran who had originally come to D.C. for a job in construction. Unfortunately, when he arrived, the job fell through and as time went on, it became harder to make ends meet. Eventually he wound up living on the streets. Even at 74 years of age, Jackson said that he would still be able to do construction work, if there were any jobs available that is. This man had a lot to say but after 5 minutes with him, my group nudged me to move on.  I could tell Jackson had more to say so I stayed,  figuring that if all I had was a measly pamphlet to give him, the least I could do was give him my time and full attention.

When we met Benjamin, I was faced with an ethical dilemma. The last question on the survey was: “Is there anything we can do right now to help you?” But my question was: If there was something we could do, would we? No one made that more evident to me than Benjamin. Though he sat with us and answered all of our questions, when he asked for small meal because he had not eaten since the morning, my group and I quickly declined saying we had no food to give. I wondered why we had asked the question in the first place if we were not really going to do anything about it. I had money, I could have gone and bought him food, but the group assured me that that was not what we were here to do. We were here to count, not to feed and not to enable the cycle. Perplexed, I wondered how feeding someone kept them homeless…wouldn’t  it just keep them healthy and alive?

Finally, we met a couple named Mike and Chloe, who were traveling from Miami. They said they were trying to get to Maine, and when I asked why, they responded that they were going “home”. As Mike played the drums and Chloe danced around to the beat, they assured me that the money they were collecting was to catch a ride “home”. They didn’t seem down, on the contrary, they seemed to like an adventurous life on the road. Though not quite the average homeless couple, we counted them and headed back to the BID office.

By 12:30, our counting had come to an end. In total we counted 12 people who were experiencing homelessness, some sleeping, some walking, some working and some, just trying to get home. Hopefully, the BID’s count will ensure that all these people find permanent help.

*names have been changed to protect interviewees’ identities.

By: Kelsi Sullivan, NCH Summer Intern

Why Membership Matters to Youth

Written by NCH Staff on . Posted in Advocacy, Awareness, Youth

Through being a member of NCH, find out how you can help LGBTQ youth deal with the risk of homelessness. Here is some insight from our summer intern, Meghana Sthanam.

This summer, I am fortunate to be able to advocate for a problem I am truly passionate about: the disproportionately large number of LGBT individuals facing homelessness everyday. I’m originally from Birmingham, Alabama, where, almost unsurprisingly, you find a sizable population of LGBT youth without consistent housing. Most live with friends or stay at clubs, hoping to find a bed for the night by whatever means. Although I recognized the problem, after joining NCH, I realized this is a problem that plagues the entire country. In the general population, 3-5% of people self-identify as LGTBQ. Furthermore, studies have shown that the homeless LGBTQ youth population in theU.S.can be as high as 40%, almost half of the entire homeless population. It’s easy to see that young LGBTQ individuals inherently face greater risks of homelessness and discrimination simply by identifying themselves as a different sexual orientation or gender identity. I believe this issue deserves as much attention as other LGBTQ issues, such as gay marriage and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell; we cannot continue with this ‘out of sight, out of mind’ thinking that has pervaded our culture.

There are so many ways our members can help. For those involved with shelters, whether an employee or shelter resident, using positive language to create a safe haven for LGBTQ individuals is essential.  By simply avoiding derogatory thoughts and actions, you can make a person feel more welcome, especially when that person is coming from a climate in which acceptance is lacking. For our youth members still in school: be a friend! The numbers show that an extremely high percentage of homeless LGBTQ have experienced harassment and abuse within their home and school. Thus, reaching out a friendly hand can make a huge difference in someone’s life. For individuals working with law enforcement, LGBTQ youth compose 13-15% of those currently in the juvenile justice system, often because of the school-to-prison pipeline, abandonment by their family or victimization in their schools. Lastly, to all our members: please continue to be an advocate!

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