I am incredibly grateful for having received the Schull Yang International Experience Award. This summer I was able to work at United Way in North Carolina with a team of individuals dedicated to ending homelessness. Your generosity has enabled me to participate in this experience and propel my career through an incredible summer internship. This would not have been possible without your generous support.
My Anthropology and International Development studies at McGill University have given me a passion for working in non-profit settings, wanting to think through and solve complex societal issues at a macro and micro level. United Way has partnered with the local Continuum of Care funded by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development to provide the community of Winston-Salem with resources and social services to tackle homelessness. I applied to this internship with the goal of expanding my knowledge of homelessness and housing solutions, understanding how key actors and governance at the local level influence the work of social services, and to help move people who are living on the streets into safe and affordable housing units.
United Way of Forsyth is a private non-profit international organization that links together thousands of non-profits for collective work on topics of social justice and equity, humanitarianism, and community development. The United Way works in over 40 countries to empower local communities by targeting complex social challenges such as health, poverty, education, and financial stability, to assist the most vulnerable populations. This summer, I worked with the United Way Forsyth County Branch, which invests in over 60 project initiatives and partners with over 40 non-profits in order to address local issues from education, economic development, health, and basic needs. United Way Forsyth's mission is to deliver quality services, programs, and initiatives to empower the local community of Winston-Salem.
The department that I interned with is Housing Matters. Housing Matters is an initiative designed to address the homelessness crisis, to develop quality and affordable supportive housing programs to enable individuals experiencing homelessness to meet their basic needs. Housing Matters of United Way uses a coordinated entry system to rapidly re-house homeless and vulnerable individuals, getting them off the streets and into programs and services to achieve long-term housing stability. My role as an intern was to sit on two committees: one dedicated to writing a policy for responding to homeless encampments, and the other to determine best practices for prioritizing individuals for housing programs. Each week, I was tasked with researching best practices for both committees and presented my research to the team. In addition, I was tasked with writing the policy for how the CoC and the city should respond to encampments. I was asked to present this policy at the CoC’s Operating Cabinet, as well as in front of the City Commissioners. I attended many United Way Housing Matters Department meetings and cross-departmental meetings.
Some of the highlights from my internship include being able to speak one-on-one with a variety of staff in the department. I was able to connect with outreach workers, data specialists, and case workers, all of which I learned a lot from. I was also invited to a White House summit on preparing for the lift of the eviction moratorium, which was a great experience. I sat in on numerous national conferences where communities from all over the United States came together to share what has worked in their communities to solve homelessness and to problem-solve together. I personally reached out to communities in other states who have ended chronic homelessness and set up meetings with the directors to gain information on how they achieved such success. This internship provided me with an understanding of both fundamental system-level aspects of homelessness, as well as the local on-the-ground aspects of homelessness. These are all invaluable experiences that I will carry with me throughout my future career. Having had this experience, I am now very passionate in creating system-level solutions for expanding affordable housing and tackling the complex societal issues that leads a person into homelessness.
Receiving the Schull and Yang International Experience Award allowed me to have this experience. It has truly enabled me to fully experience this internship and receive the most that I can. I have learned an incredible amount this summer through this internship that will open many doors for my future. Thank you very much to Mr. Schull and Ms. Yang for making this experience possible and for your generous support. I am incredibly grateful and honored to have been a recipient of your generous support.