I have worked with people who are homeless for almost my entire adult life. I started volunteering and found I was useful. I also found the way we deliver homeless services to teens and adults in the ngo and public spheres incredibly inefficient lacking. I have been working to change that from the bottom up ever since 2002.
The Urban Ministry Center, Charlotte, NC.
This is a small plot of land where soup is served to the homeless 365 days a year. I started building things there together with members of the homeless community. From murals, to community gardens, to street soccer pitches, arbors, and eventually a new facility, we inscribed every inch of the property with hearts and souls. Our ability to transform our immediate environment was the basic for the programs we developed. Now I have left, but other than the Shenandoah Valley where my family has lived for generation, this location feels the most like home to me. When I go back the ethos we developed is still palpable and though the people have changed an understanding and sense of mission remains. When I go back, the people I have worked with come back to visit and we connect to the best parts of ourselves that we discovered together there.
I want to see the end to homelessness as we know it in the United States. The problem is soluble, but the entrenched model of services prevents it.
I founded Community Works 945 for empowering the homeless in 2002. One of our program, inspired by the Homeless World Cup, is called Street Soccer USA. Street Soccer USA has been replicated in 18 cities across the country. In addition to being the CEO of Street Soccer USA, I now work at Director of Development and Advocacy for HELP USA, a national provider of permanent supportive housing for the homeless based in New York City.