This summer, Heading Home was honored to have an incredibly talented, resourceful group of young leaders participate in our 2020 Community Champion program, an experiential summer internship for high school juniors and seniors. Three students committed to spend the summer months engaging their communities in sourcing furniture to be distributed to families moving out of shelter in the fall. These three Community Champions sourced 150+ pieces of furniture from their communities, largely focused in and around Wayland, Dover, and Marblehead.
While soliciting and collecting donations, these Champions honed their interpersonal, project management, and leadership skills. They also participated in five learning lectures about poverty and homelessness led by Heading Home staff who work directly in service of others.
Adrienne Correia, a rising Junior at The Rivers School in Weston, engaged her Wayland community through social media and received an overwhelmingly positive response, so much so that she spent most of her summer days traveling to appointments to look at or pick up furniture. “I discovered that I live in a very generous community that cares about issues around homelessness,” she shared. Adrienne, who has volunteered at Heading Home with her family for many years, reflected on what she learned from this experience, “I have met a number of homeless families, and what I learned from this internship gave me a much greater appreciation for how difficult it is for these families to lift themselves out of homelessness.”
Zack Popiel, a rising senior at Noble & Greenough School in Dedham, formed connections with his school community and his hometown of Dover using social media for outreach. Having previously interned with Heading Home’s Development team in 2019, Zack used his knowledge about the organization as a conversation-starter and received a lot of enthusiastic responses. Growing up in a family that emphasized the importance of volunteerism and service has inspired Zack to seek meaningful opportunities to engage his community, introducing people with means to organizations with needs. Reflecting on his outreach and engagements, Popiel said he was “surprised to learn how many people in the community wanted to give back or donate, but didn’t know where.”
Interns learned from Heading Home staff, experts in fields of: Economic Mobility, Family Homelessness, and Clinical Services. All 3 interns reflected on the staggering statistics related to minimum wage, the racial wealth gap, and the discrimination experienced in the housing system.
Director of Economic Mobility Services, Shirley Fan-Chan, facilitated one of the learning lectures on wage inequality and the downstream impact of homelessness. “The Community Champion’s learning sessions provided a great opportunity for our new generation of volunteers to gain an in-depth understanding of the issues surrounding homelessness and poverty.” The long-term impact of this internship? “We’ll gain more voices speaking up in the fight to end homelessness and poverty – this has been a great project to help future leaders lead the change.”
Grayson Frey, a rising senior at Marblehead High School, wanted to spend the summer giving back to the community, using her time to help those in need. “I chose to work with Heading Home because they are extremely successful in providing less fortunate families and individuals with a strong foundation, allowing them to grow,” Grayson reflected when asked about her internship. “It feels really good to know that I helped someone this summer.”
“In a time of uncertainty, fear, injustice and outrage, I had the chance to see young minds expand and light up about issues that impact our communities each day. These future leaders have already made such a profound impact on their communities,” said Carli Baldwin, who manages Heading Home’s Volunteer & Service Learning programs. “I am so proud of these 3 young adults who brought in 150+ pieces of furniture that will be a staple in many families’ homes as they move out of homelessness.”
In a time of uncertainty, fear, injustice and outrage, I had the chance to see young minds expand and light up about issues that impact our communities each day. These future leaders have already made such a profound impact on their communities.