Today marks the end of my internship at Families Moving Forward. It’s been quite a whirlwind these past few weeks, from introductions and finding my place, to the heart of programming and surveying, to concluding my last week of team meetings and supervision with my boss, I’m sad to see it all end. Overall I have loved my time at FMF, it was genuinely an eye-opening and encouraging start to my professional career and if anything it left me excited for what is to come post-Duke. During my final supervision the other day my boss asked me what are some things I’ve learned, and I immediately said, “you can do a whole lot with a little”. Non-profit work is not a cake walk. It’s hard, challenging, underfunded, and there’s always a need. However, some of my best moments during programming, or watching the other staff work with the residents was when it was a simple activity, or discussion but the residents were given attention, an audience to voice their thoughts, and the staff were there to listen and to engage.
Doing “good” work doesn’t require a whole lot of resources. Yes, resources make it easier (and I urge anyone whose reading this who has time on their hands, old toys, or extra toiletries to find a shelter near you to volunteer or donate at). But, you can really do a lot, with a little; it’s the quality of time spent working on problems, helping families, or even listening to someone that doesn’t require tons of resource, money, or a 50 person staff.
With my time spent “on the ground” I’ve caught a glimpse of the day to day of real people experiencing homelessness with their families. I’ve seen the victories of getting a house, or a job, and I’ve also seen the people “stuck” in a cycle of generational poverty that they can’t seem to shake. My time at FMF has been informative, and amazing. I’m not sure if I can say for certain that I want to be doing this as a career, I do want to be involved (and will be coming back to the shelter in the fall to offer teen programming as a volunteer). I do know that I now want to delve into the policies and practices side of things, who makes the rules, decisions, and laws and more importantly for whose benefit? I feel like I’ve come sort of full circle, from experiencing homelessness as a young adult, fast forwarding three years later to me interning at a homeless shelter and working with that same age population, my time this summer has been both good for me professionally, but also on a personal level. I’m sad to leave FMF, the wonderful staff who are so hardworking and diligent who take pride in the little wins of the day and work to overcome the challenges families face as best they can with the resources they have from federal and private donors.
I’m excited to see what’s next for me, I know now that I love programming and I find the work of a nonprofit rewarding, worthwhile, and exciting. I’m unsure if this will lead me to continue this path of direct service, or try and see if I can do some good on the broader policy side of things. I am certain that I want to continue to aim for law school, with the idea of obtaining a MSW (Masters in Social Work) alongside it sounding more appealing the longer I think on it. Six weeks is not enough time to truly delve into the day to day and lives of people experiencing homelessness, and in no way to truly understand the inner workings of the staff and agency that support those families at FMF. The taste I have gotten however, has been enough for me to realize that this is the type of work that makes me passionate, and for now provides me purpose.
So long for now,