With the end of August comes the end to summer vacations for students across the country. My summer vacation is no different. As I write this blog post I am sitting in my Research Methods class at The George Washington University.
I can say with a good degree of certainty that my months away from academia were unique. As most of you know, I worked at a youth homeless shelter in Oklahoma that I once called home. Formerly named “Independent Living Services for Youth,” Bridges has become an innovative program that sets education above all else. For the many young adults living on the streets or couch-surfing, Bridges was more than a homeless shelter, it was an education program, a support system, and a family that many had never had before. Bridges was all these things to me and so much more.
Bridges is a part my story, and part of the reason I am living my dream of higher education. Thus, when I won GW’s Shapiro Public Service Award, which gave me the chance to study Bridges’ programs from ‘the other side’ I was ecstatic, and even more so when I learned I could share my thoughts with the Alliance’s community.
Over the summer, I learned more about how a nonprofit works and also, most importantly, how others perceive homelessness. So many negative thoughts and conceptions are associated with the word ‘homeless.’
During my stay in Oklahoma, I was able to fight these and the ignorance surrounding homelessness and, in particular, youth homelessness. If I were to describe all that I learned during this research adventure, I feel as though I would have to write a book. My hope is that those of you who have kept up with my posts are left feeling like you learned something about the Bridges program, and perhaps even me.
Coming back to DC always reignites a sense of community in me. By community I mean that I feel so connected to the rest of the world, and I feel as though I can make a difference in areas that matter to me. Seeing Bridges and its workings this summer makes me want to continue to educate people on homelessness and strive to rid them of their misconceptions.
I am incredibly thankful to have been given the chance to be heard, and record my findings here on The National Alliance to End Homelessness blog. For those of you who are students, good luck with your academics, but for those of you that are in the working world, keep on chuggin’!
PS. Always remember to vote!