So it’s all over.
The 2010 National Conference on Ending Homelessness is behind us.
And – even from a non-expert standpoint – I have to say that it was a pretty incredible experience. From the industry luminaries that graced the stage at plenary sessions to the incredible workshop speakers to the [really outstanding] hotel staff, I really felt that the last three days were both educational and inspiring.
Alliance staff are all encouraged to attend [and staff] workshops, so I had the opportunity to learn about a lot of things that I don’t encounter in my communication-and-social-media-days in the office. I learned about the role rapid re-housing can play in the life of domestic violence survivors, I learned about the implications of the HEARTH Act in ending family homelessness, I learned how much interest there was in communications and social media, and I learned a lot – a ton! – about the federal plan to end homelessness and HPRP.
I learned a lot about people! Our field is full of such wonderfully different, quirky, and committed practitioners and advocates! Walking around with an Alliance nametag gave me an avenue to introduce myself to folks – and every time I turned around I had the opportunity to meet direct service providers, advocates, government employees, and real, true experts in the field. And every so often (I think I mentioned this before), I got a chance to meet Twitter friends and Facebook buds that I had chatted with online but not in life – and that was an exciting if surreal experience.
But most of all – cue the violins – I got to learn about ending homelessness. It’s a tough concept to wrap my mind around – ending homelessness. Even as a dedicated employee of the Alliance, it can still be hard for me to really visualize a time without any individuals or families in shelter or on the streets.
The conference righted all of that. After hearing from Nan, from Secretary Shaun Donovan, from Barbara Poppe, from Secretary Eric Shinseki, from Delegate Charniele Herring – and all the experts in workshops in between – over and over and over again, the message rang through.
Not only is ending homelessness possible – we’re doing it right now. With the reform of health care, with the implementation of HPRP, with the provisions in the HEARTH Act, with the outlines in the federal plan. With an investment in housing, with an eye towards infrastructure, with best practices and good policy, and with the hard work and dedication of every single person who attended this year’s conference, we are ending homelessness as we speak (or rather, I type).
It’s a message that lifted my spirits and reminded me of what our common mission is, what brings us together year after year.
I hope it did for you too.