July 29, 2013

The First Step

by Stanley Stewart

Stanley Stewart ’16 is an Impact Providence intern working for Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless.

I take a deep breath.

“Calm down Stanley, you can do this. This isn’t that big of a deal. They’re just people.”

Unsure of what to say and hesitant to pick up the phone, I attempted to calm the beating in my chest and anxiety racing through my veins.

Was I qualified to be doing this? What if they had questions? Could I answer them?

As a part of my latest project at the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless, I was anxiously putting off phone calls to the various Chiefs of the RI State & Municipal Police Departments.

The previous week, I met with constituents from the Voices of Homelessness Speakers Bureau* to assess their goals and needs. The Speakers Bureau is comprised of current or formerly homeless individuals who share their experiences in order to educate and dispel myths surrounding homelessness. In the meeting, they identified strengthening their partnership with local law enforcement agencies as a top priority. It was now my job to see if I could book a speaking engagement with the police academies.

Unsurprisingly, I was met with a bit of skepticism and doubt. “If he can do that, it’ll be a miracle!” one the members joked. Interfacing with such important city figures while I was just a summer intern was intimidating. All I could promise was to do my best.

Fast forward two weeks, and I’ve successfully communicated with head of the State & Municipal Police Academies for Rhode Island. While the details are still under way, and I’m certainly proceeding with caution, I was surprised at just how easy it was to get the ball rolling.

What had been a pressing goal for so long took a simple email and phone call to start.

I’ve found this surprising fact to hold true throughout my internship here at the Coalition. I would have never thought that I could lobby at the Senate or House, outreach on behalf of the homeless, or pretty much anything else I’ve done here that initially challenged me to go outside my comfort zone.

The lesson here is that our goals, whatever they may be, often seem a lot more challenging before we’ve attempted them. As the old adage goes, “The first step is always the hardest to take.” Fear and insecurity can go a long way in handicapping us from achieving our goals. However, oftentimes we’ll find that things can be easier to accomplish than we anticipated, if we’re just willing to take the first step.

*If you are interested in having members from the Speakers Bureau speak at your college, organization, or event, click here to learn more about set up a speaking engagement.

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