Get Engaged

Get Engaged

No, I don't mean with a diamond ring. Civic Engagement and our SMLS this week was a very interesting one, at least, for me it was. It started off at Howard University with a panel about Racism in America. One of the debate members from Fox News didn't show, but we did get to hear from Michael Dyson, who is an author for MSNBC and Ray Suarez, the host of Inside Story and their perspective of how race affects human beings.

 

He made excellent points, challenged previous beliefs, and after it was all said and done I wouldn't believe anyone in that room would leave unsatisfied or unchanged in some way. "Use the internet to challenge your perspective. We as a nation seem to think that the best way to go about solving issues dealing with race are to simply ignore it and forget about it, because it's too painful for us to bear."



 

The Face of Homelessness

The next session was equally amazing, as it is something close and dear to my heart. Being a Social Work major and an intern at Carpenters Shelter, it's no surprise I would attend a session regarding homelessness. There were two people sitting up in the front, ready to tell their tales, and though I won't do it any justice, I'll try to summarize their powerful life stories.

 

Candi Darley

 

Born in Panama, she moved with her family to America when she was ten years old. She later went on to earn her BSN from George Washington University and worked several years as a nurse at GWU hospital. She then explained how she started to feel funny, internally, and no one could figure what she had. She would undergo scans, surgeries and bed rest, but no one could understand her condition (it later turned out to be fibromyalgia). Due to missing a lot of work, she was fired. This alone, would not cause homelessness, but problems at home would. She lived comfortably with her husband and son, but soon they separated and she ran out of savings, and became suicidal. She resorted to couch surfing, but the thought of asking friends and family for favors took a toll on her health, and for seven years she remained homeless.

One day, after attending a program at a shelter, she enrolled in a housing list and the next day she received a call that she had been approved for housing, and since then her life has changed drastically. She began speaking through National Coalition for the Homeless and has talked to thousands of students and shelter since. I had the opportunity to talk to her after the session, grabbed her number, and hopefully will get her to come and speak with my clients here at Carpenters or where I volunteer at Sasha Bruce Youthworks. Only time will tell!

 

James Davis.

 

Born in Charleston, SC He graduated college with a degree in electronics and computer technology, and did quite well with himself. He was what many call, a workaholic though, and it impacted his family life and led to a separation from his wife and three kids. Soon after, his company was bought out and he was left without a job. From going from 6 figure income to none, life changed quickly for him. He jumped from place to place, but no one knew he was homeless. It wasn't until his depression kicked in and his self medication with alcohol that things became so rough he was sleeping on the streets of D.C. "I used to see these people all the time, and think, how do they end up this way? Now I know. Now I understand."


His luck changed when he found a job and steadily grew income, and also started to work for the National Coalition for the Homeless.


"It just goes to show that anyone can become homeless, homelessness does not care what your gender is, your religion, or your race.


Homelessness does not discriminate."

 

Monique

As i said before, I volunteer at Sasha Bruce Youthworks, which focuses on teens who are facing homelessness. I had the pleasure of talking to Monique about her life, and she agreed to let me post it here.


"I grew up in a loving family, but somewhere it just turned bad. I did some stupid stuff, but I was 15, who doesn't at that time? Now I have a baby, no high school diploma, and no chance of making it in this world. You see what people think of me, you know that they think I did this to myself. But I had no options, I had no clue what to do. Now my baby's father is gone, and I'm all alone. This program though, is changing my life. It's giving me a chance to succeed, and I'm thankful. I just wish that more people would give me a chance, because I'm just a kid who has nothing.


When it comes to these sessions and your D.C. experience- make the most of it! Choose sessions that will challenge and interest you. But go in with an open mind and a willingness to change.


Until next time,

Megan

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