My name is Arielys, I am 24 years old and I am living in a shelter with my child. I am beginning my journey as a new Homes For Families Intern. I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself and tell you why I am so passionate about spending my summer working to end family homelessness.
I remember going to a training for my job at LIFT Boston and feeling so connected to the guest speaker as she spoke of becoming homeless and going through the toughest time of her life. I felt connected to her because she not only overcame homelessness but she was fighting to help others do the same. I remember “couchsurfing” for three years straight with my mom and sister as a young teen. I would always say to myself “I never want to go through this again”. I wanted so badly to just have a place to call home and not have to live out of trash bags. Growing up chronically homeless, I wanted so desperately to put an end to homelessness. I never let my living situation stop me from pursuing my dreams though. I never knew how to get involved till that special day when I met Diane Sullivan, the guest speaker at my training. She spoke words of hope. That was my first experience with Homes for Families.
Two years later, I was invited by a case manager to attend the Cookie Day event at the state house. I was all for it having heard about it years prior from Diane. Having never followed up with her I decided this was the perfect opportunity to get involved. After all I was homeless. Who better to advocate for affordable housing than me?
Attending the event, I felt that sense of hope in the air again! I felt like I had power that I never felt; I had to make a difference and really make change happen. After the speakers, we had the opportunity to meet our representatives but I went straight to Diane to reintroduce myself. She greeted me warmly and kindly directed me to Nilaya who would then open many doors of opportunities for me to get involved.
It took me two years, one child, and another episode of homelessness to follow through with getting connected. I was eager to get involved. This time, I was ready to fight back! Nilaya was so helpful in getting me started, and I couldn’t thank her enough for seeing the potential in me to support the movement. She mentioned trainings that would take place once a week for a five week period. What she didn’t know was that I would skip class to attend these meetings because that’s how passionate I was about being a part of such an important and groundbreaking initiative. Luckily, it was the end of my semester 🙂
Attending these meetings made me feel like a key component in the movement- and that feeling was so euphoric for me. Coming from literally nothing; a life of chaos, confusion, and uncertainty, I felt so empowered!
Nilaya made it very clear how important we were in the process of connecting, partnering and leading. After a successful five weeks with an incredible group of leaders, Nilaya mentioned an opportunity to intern for Homes For Families. I knew this was exactly where I needed to be
Homes For Families mission is to “educate organize and advocate for improved public policies to address the root causes of family homelessness with holistic and community based solutions”. Everything in this mission represents what I always wanted to be apart of.
After completing the 5 week training and joining the Consumer Advocacy Team, I was offered the position as summer intern as Homes for Families, I jumped at the opportunity. Two weeks in, I am loving it! I get to be apart of such a powerful team of women who stop at nothing to get things done. We are all passionate about our work; having worked with the homeless population or even experiencing homelessness for ourselves. I get to see what goes on behind the scenes and it makes me appreciate the work that my shelter does. Just in my second week I was able to attend a community meeting with partnering non-profits and families. It was tremendously invigorating to see all the different partners that are apart of the movement. It reminded me that teamwork really does make the dream work.
I am so excited to learn more about the politics around housing and homelessness prevention. Its important for myself as a homeless single parent, who has experienced a cycle of homelessness one too many times, to be able to take my experience and use it to create change in my community. I am ready to learn, educate, and advocate!