Expectations and Guess-timations

I officially start at Families Moving Forward this coming Monday the 22nd, and I’m not really sure what to expect of it. A little background on me; I’m a rising senior at Duke studying Cultural Anthropology with a minor in Political Science, and a Certificate in Experiential Ethics. Originally from Ypsilanti Michigan, I’m a first-generation (1G) college student whose passionate about studying the effects of displacement and migration, and investigating individuals’ articulations of home. I think law school is in my future, with a gap-year, or two in-between, focusing on refugee rights and resettlement, as well as providing access to higher education and resources for low-income, and 1G students. Upon moving out of my college dorm, and into my summer apartment this week, it’s been eerily quiet and peaceful. I’m definitely starting to fidget with wanting something to do, so Monday comes at a good time.

Families Moving Forward, or FMF, which is how I’ll likely refer to it throughout these posts, is a temporary homeless shelter and advocacy center for homeless families in Durham, NC. It’s nonprofit that came to be from the merging of two organizations that worked with the homeless population of Durham, Genesis Home, and Durham Interfaith Hospitality Network, in 2016. FMF provides short-term housing and services to families experiencing homelessness, without separating families by gender or age, or by putting limitations on who can live there, an unusual way of operating a homeless shelter.

I’m excited to be working with FMF because my family experienced homelessness when I was in high school, and those eight months of unknowing, uncertainty, and living in the “in-between” was not only a hard experience for me, but a transformative one. I want to work with students like me who are experiencing homelessness currently, hoping to impart advice, or just be a friend during their time at FMF.

So what will I actually be doing at FMF? I have two mini-projects that I am working on; one is with their after-care program, and another is helping out during their evening programming for high schoolers who currently reside at “The Nest”, their name for the shelter. With after-care at FMF, families are given a case-worker for one year who regularly meets and checks-in with families who have successfully moved out of FMF to permanent housing. This after-care is to make sure families are on the right track, can find stable employment and day-care for their children, and will not be at-risk for returning to homelessness. My role at FMF will be to visit families who have completed their 1 year of after-care and see how they are doing, their thoughts on the program, and if that after-care needs to be further expanded. My second mini-project will be helping out with evening programming for high school residents of the Nest in whatever capacity I can, as a volunteer, helper, or if they’ll listen, a mentor.

I’m both excited and unsure of how this next will go. This is my first time being on the “other end” of homelessness, not the recipient of these services, but in a small capacity, the giver. I am excited to be with FMF to see the business side of their work, and what it’s like to be in a non-profit. Hopefully, this summer will clue me into if I actually enjoy working in non-profits in the day-to-day rather than simply saying I would, without having experience in one. I’m also excited to be in Durham this summer, and seeing what the Bull City is like outside of the “Duke Bubble”. I’m overall ready to jump into the work at FMF, and feel out this potential career path.

Sloan Talbot is a rising senior from Ypsilanti, Michigan majoring in Cultural Anthropology with a Certificate in Ethics & Society. She is one of seven Kenan Purpose Program Summer Fellows

Sloan is a passionate advocate for greater access to resources for historically disadvantaged groups. At Duke, she is deeply involved in creating a community for first-generation college students. She is hoping to discern whether non-profit work is a possible career avenue for her this summer with Families Moving Forward, an innovative organization supporting families attempting to transition out of homelessness.

Sloan Talbot is an undergraduate student researcher, a participant of Kenan’s Summer Purpose Program, Freshman Focus, Duke Immerse, SuWA, and Citizenship Lab.

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