Methma is a Volunteer Representative for Swearer Tutoring and Enrichment in Math and Sciences (STEMS). As a VR, Methma helps plan weekly meetings for the tutors, which are intended to provide Brown tutors with tools to work more effectively, through tutoring skills, knowledge of current education policy, discussions on the role of a tutor in a classroom, or information about the Providence Public School system. She is currently tutoring in a physics class.
A Home of One’s Own
Hannah is a coordinator of Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere (HOPE). She participates in nighttime outreach walks once a week with the Rhode Island Homeless Advocacy Project.
“I’ve got housing,” were the first words out of Mike’s mouth when I met him on outreach this September.
I was floored by the news. I had seen him nearly every week for the past year on my nighttime outreach walks on the South Side. He was chronically homeless, and he had often told me that he was too old to keep living on the streets.
A charismatic man with a white beard and a tough demeanor, Mike was a leader in the homeless community. He usually filled my outreach team in on the events of the week, describing the fights, overdoses and sexual assaults that are regular fixtures in the lives of the homeless. Often, he mediated between individuals when conflicts flared, serving as a peacemaker for the community.
When Mike told me that he was moving to a housing unit in Central Falls, he helped to restore my faith in the service sector. Housing promotes individuals’ mental health, physical health, safety and sobriety. In fact, numerous studies have shown that providing people with housing first saves states money in the long run because of the expensive services that the homeless require. Despite this research, few homeless individuals I know have been offered this transformative opportunity.
Mike’s story inspires me to push forward with renewed energy in my outreach and advocacy work with HOPE. Even when housing seems like a distant vision, surrounded by miles of red tape, it can become a reality when outreach workers collaborate with caseworkers and the state channels enough funding to support its neediest citizens.
I was not the person to put Mike on the housing list. Nor can I know whether my outreach visits changed his life, whether the blankets I gave him were stolen or whether my company offered him any consolation. My advocacy work through HOPE is slow and painstaking, and it is unlikely that my canvassing efforts affected him directly.
Yet I am proud to be a part of the effort to lift individuals like Mike off the street, into the profound security of a home. Through our relationship, I have deepened my understanding of homelessness in Rhode Island, changing an abstract notion to a tangible reality. My service work strengthens my solidarity with the homeless, driving my passion to transform their experience for the better.
June 20, 2016
June 13, 2016"I think about opening my mouth to call out goodbye, or to salute her in a traditional sign language farewell. Instead, I stand silently and smile."
Sally Hosokawa is a Community Fellow for Writers’ Group, a Swearer Center Community Program that facilitates creative writing workshops for adults with developmental disabilities. She studies literary translation in the Comparative Literature Department.
May 14, 2016“Club teachers understand us,” she says. “Even though they’re older, they’re not that much older, and so they’re like us and we can identify with them and talk to them about our problems.”
Addy is a volunteer with the Brown Elementary Afterschool Mentoring Program (BEAM), a Swearer Center community partnership that facilitates after-school programing activities and mentorship between Brown volunteers and students at William D’Abate Elementary School in the Olneyville neighborhood.
February 22, 2016
Pia is a junior double-concentrating in Education Studies and Comparative Literature. This is her third year with Writers' Group, a Swearer Center Community Program that offers creative writing workshops for adults with developmental disabilities, and her first year as a Swearer Center Community Fellow.
February 19, 2016I was intrigued by the program, but very intimidated by some of the topics. I’ve never been in the position to talk about gender or sexuality or rape culture.
Tiara came into Brown dead set on studying Neuroscience. After a summer or working with the local Planned Parenthood branch and taking health based classes she realized public health was her real calling. She has been volunteering for the SHAPE (Sexual Health Advocacy through Peer Education) program since sophomore year.
February 16, 2016