Sunday, October 24, 2010

On the Rise: Simmone Seymour, A14

On Monday I, along with two other students at Tufts, volunteered at an organization called On the Rise located in Cambridge, MA.  The organization works to restore confidence in women that are homeless via a transitional day program. We were given a tour of the home and then introduced to the program.  As part of the introduction we were shown video footage of women from the home give their personal accounts of what led to them becoming homeless.  The stories that they wove together were mind-boggling and I could never have imagined someone enduring what these women have gone through. These women were not lazy people who had chosen not to work or had willingly chosen to do drugs that had led them to the streets. They were strong women that had survived a lot and had been placed in situations I do not know what I would have done in. The stories changed my perspective on homelessness. No longer do I believe that homelessness is a condition that somebody can be blamed for getting himself or herself into; I now believe that it is a condition that results from unfortunate events in one’s life.  The footage also showcased the work of On The Rise. The organization has no formal structure, such as other transitional programs. There is no stack of intake forms or private therapy sessions; instead you are merely offered a warm shower and a chance to open up when you are ready. This approach created a trusting relationship among the women and staff, and restored responsibility and confidence in the women. They were allowed to feel human again and felt like they had someplace to belong – both invaluable gifts.

Myself and the two other students ended up sorting through clothes for the women. Though a simple task, volunteering at the organization reshaped my outlook on homelessness. It felt good to know that I was supporting such a worthy cause and there was no doubt that I will be back.

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