Working on a World of Change
Margie Winters coordinates Project HOME's Summer Service Program.
Imagine 50 high school students spending part of their summer immersing themselves in the Project HOME community! They played bingo with Project HOME residents, painted a mural at Ray Homes’ community garden, prepared flower beds at Sanctuary Farm, served lunch at Project HOME sites, packaged food at MANNA, read to children at Mercy Neighborhood Ministries, and rolled ribbons of struggles for an art installation at Project HOME’s newest building at 2415 North Broad.
These students from Philadelphia and the surrounding area found a home in the Project HOME community as they participated in our Summer Service Program, engaging in service learning with Project HOME and other non-profit organizations that address issues of homelessness, poverty and food insecurity.
Students spent time discovering some of the root causes of homelessness and poverty and how Project HOME creates not only solutions to homelessness, but also finds ways of prevention. They engaged in conversations and experiences around poverty, food insecurity, mass incarceration, Medicaid, and advocacy for these issues. “I feel even more passionate about the issues of a right to affordable housing and further developed my passion for social justice,” commented Abby Leighton, a sophomore at Masterman High School.
A major highlight for the students was listening to the stories of some of Project HOME’s residents. The men and women who opened their hearts and lives to these students offered them a glimpse into the struggles and resiliency of our residents and how becoming a part of a community committed to healing and recovery can be transformative. Laura Contreras, a sophomore at Central High School, shared, “(Hearing) the stories of people who have experienced homelessness and poverty had the most impact on me. They were told with real meaning that got me thinking in a new way.”
Mickel Lewis, a summer intern with our advocacy department and a participant in the Honickman Learning Center/Comcast Technology Lab’s College Access Program, also captivated students’ attention as he led them through a process that tapped into their creativity for the cause of justice. He encouraged them to write songs or scripts to address issues that they care about. Here is one of their raps:
Me and my two girls
We're highly misunderstood
We love the climate and think people are good
We want equal pay and LGBTQ rights
But ignorant fascists
Say we shouldn't bring it to light
We love project HOME and respect the work that they do
We want something better with people like you
So we're women
Working on a world of change
Just stop waiting and start to change the game
It's hard to beat the systems when you're trapped down in the prisons
Mass incarceration is a form of human depravation
So we're working
Working on a world of change!
No wonder participant, Anna Grace Coyne, a junior at Notre Dame Academy, reflected about her experience, “I really loved these two weeks. Every day I woke up with a new found enthusiasm. Now, I have a much deeper understanding of why homelessness affects so many people and ways to help prevent it from happening.”
Project HOME’s Service Learning Program encourages school communities to embrace our mission by partnering with us to create opportunities for education on homelessness and poverty in curricular and non-curricular ways and through ongoing commitment to relationships with our residents and participants.
It is through relationship, getting to know one another and understand one another that transformation happens. Maya Hoffman, a sophomore at Mount St. Joseph Academy and a Maguire Scholar, attests to this as she reflected on her experience, “I got to escape my bubble of reality and try learn how others live, which I really appreciated.”
Dylan Rooney, a sophomore at Cardinal O’Hara High School, captured it best, “I enjoyed every day deeply and it changed me as a person. I have never been to a place that was so welcoming and had such a feeling of community to it. Most of all, I enjoyed the people.”