Spare Change News
On February 29, 2012, I went to the Massachusetts State House for The Coalition for the Homeless’ Legislation Action Day. After my experience, I have a renewed hope in our state leaders.
The event took place in the Great Hall where the Hall of Flags is located. The schedule of events was rather simple and interesting. After coffee, check-in and registration, we were welcomed by Robyn Frost, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless. Then Kelly Turley, Director of Legislative Advocacy for the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, spoke about the budget and bill priorities as viewed by the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless.
Kat Chapman, a Graduate Intern at Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless and Boston College Graduate School of Social Work,showed a video about the Unaccompanied Youth Video Project. The video was rather impressive.
In the video several young people between the ages of 16-26 spoke about their experiences of being homeless. They included specific instances as homeless, how they became homeless, what it was like attending school as homeless youth, and how being homeless has affected them as young adults. I was most impressed with two individuals in the video.
There was a young man in the video who stated that, when he became homeless, the kids at school would tease him because his mother couldn’t clean his clothes. He was able to obtain his high school diploma but it was an extremely traumatizing experience. After graduating high school he found a job and rented a room. Despite having a job, other than the cost of rent, money could only go towards food. His boss fired him because he constantly showed up for work smelling. While in the process of finding another job, he lost his room and was forced to go live on the streets again.
Afterwards, the video showed a young woman who, having no friends to celebrate with, went back to where she’d been staying the whole time she attended high school: the roof of an abandoned building. She took her diploma and climbed to the roof where she had a cardboard house built, went inside, covered herself with her graduation gown and robe and went to sleep. The next morning after her search for a job she was forced to look for a new home — the cardboard that she once lived in along with the building were no longer in existence, it was demolished prior to her return.
To end the event, there were four speakers. The Speakers Panel on Unaccompanied Youth Homelessness and House Bill 3838, was comprised of Representative James O’Day, Lead sponsor of Legislative Action Day and House Bill 3838. Reverend Peter Wells, Associate Conference Minister, Mass. Conference, United Church of Christ. Ayala Livny, Program Manager for Youth on Fire, and QuiannaSarjeant, Unaccompanied Youth Speakers Bureau Member, and Youth on Fire.
The final announcements were given by our lead speaker Robyn Frost then everybody went to speak to their state representatives, senators and other state leaders.
BEATRICE BELL is a Spare Change News writer and vendor.
Photo caption: Robyn Frost, Executive Director for the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless. Photo: Beatrice Bell