We started by visiting the Salvation Army. I didn’t know what to expect as I had never been here before. Our tour guide started telling us about all of the wonderful opportunities they offer to people experiencing homelessness, followed by a tour of the living spaces. As I walked down the hall I saw an expression of warmth, security, and protection on a toddler’s face. From that moment forward I knew this experience with Homeward would be one to remember.
Our next stop was Homeless Point of Entry. Here I got to see the starting point for anyone who is having a housing crisis and in need of shelter, case management, and other related services. Afterwards, we walked next door to the Daily Planet which offers services such as primary health care, behavioral health, oral health, eye health, and case management. I began to think, “Have I been living under a rock for 12 years?” I never knew Richmond had these resources for those experiencing homelessness.
Finally we headed to our last stop on the tour, Virginia Supportive Housing. Just when I thought this experience couldn’t get any better, I met a resident. He told his story about how VSH found him living in the woods, and just when he was about to lose all hope, he now had a permanent place that he could call home.
It was at this point when I realized how fortunate I was, getting to see the world though a new pair of glasses. The experience that I received through Homeward’s Solutions Provider Training Tour is one that I will remember forever.
One of Homeward’s goals is to educate and advocate for change. I learned the importance of maximizing the appropriate use of public servicers rather than create new services for those experiencing homelessness. They make it a point to coordinate and collaborate with mental health resources, substance abuse resources, programs healthcare providers and more, to ensure better utilization of community resources.
I am now more eager than ever to be interning with Homeward. I am excited to carry out Homeward’s mission to prevent, reduce, and end homelessness; and be the positive change I want to see.
Ready, Set, Go!
— Jazmine Brown is a senior in the VCU Mass Communications program concentrating in Broadcast Journalism. She is interning with Homeward until she graduates in December 2014.