I am Frankie Chicoine. I was born and raised in Niles, California a small town in the Bay Area. I grew up with two loving parents and an older brother, who all inspire and support me to pursue my dreams and accomplish my goals. I am a rising junior at the University of Portland where I am pursuing a double major in Philosophy and Political Science with a minor in Social Justice. I quickly found a place to fulfill my passion on campus through the service plunge and being a Service and Justice Coordinator this past school year. I am grateful to be able to call the Moreau Center my home away from home. In the future, I hope to play an active role in reforming public policy and committing myself to advocacy work to move the world one step closer to positive systematic changes. This summer I have the privilege to work at a non-profit organization that is fighting an important social justice issue: homelessness. In this blog, I will share more of my passion, summer experience, and what is to come.
This summer, I am working with Destination: Home, a nonprofit organization in Santa Clara County. Their mission is to end homelessness. Destination: Home’s focus is to build more permanent supportive housing, have a voice in policy changes, and use collective impact strategies to end homelessness. In the past three weeks with them, I have learned the importance of collaboration. This issue can not be solved by one individual, one organization, or even one county. Homelessness can be ended, with empathic, thoughtful, and authentic partnerships. One of my favorite parts about this experience thus far is the variety of projects and interactions we have each day. I have the opportunity to get experience with communications and social media work, attending meetings with various organizations, diving into important policy issues that impact homelessness, and direct service work.
My goal this summer is to learn. At first glance, this goal is simple and maybe even pointless to share since most experiences are learning experiences. There are so much information and opportunities for being an intern for justice that it is essential that I am being an active learner. I have to want to learn and take full advantage of this incredible opportunity the Moreau Center and Destination: Home is providing me with. Being an intentional learner has positioned me to learn more about not only homelessness as a social justice issue but homelessness as a systemic issue. It is key to understand the intersectionality of homelessness, health care, race and equity, public policy, land use, food security, and many more systems to ultimately be able to provide effective supportive housing and end homelessness. Every day, I am reminded to be intentional about this work.
One question I am asked often is: why work in an office setting rather than being frontline doing direct service work? I think this question is not only valid but has given me the opportunity to reflect on why I am so committed to social justice. To start to answer this question, you first have to understand the complexity and reality of the issue. Homelessness is one of the greatest injustices in our world. Ending homelessness is not possible without direct service providers and without direct services for food, shelter, and health. In Portland, I have had the opportunity to hear people’s stories at Night Strike every Thursday night and provide someone with a warm meal. I have seen the positive impact that day center and shelters have on individuals. That alone is not enough. The stories, faces, and interactions I have had, lead me to want to fight for a better system with more effective policies and practices. I want to see progress, to see people not live day to day in a shelter but to have a place to call home in permanent supportive housing. This is why the housing first model has been adopted as the leading solution to end homelessness. Housing first model is defined by housing homeless individuals and then providing services, this allows them instant stability and courage to succeed. That is why this summer I knew I needed to be apart of the planning process and the hard work that goes into accomplishing the housing first model. There is a lot of work that goes into planning, building, and supporting projects to end homelessness. This summer I am committed to better understand the system and the best approaches to solving this issue.
As I end this reflection, I challenge you all to be intentional as you learn and as you work. I am excited to continue to be engaged in all aspects of this opportunity and be apart of the solution to end homelessness. Thank you for reading a little about me and my summer thus far!