By Ed Vere. Ed graduated with Highest Honors from a Blue Ribbon High School District in Illinois. He is a third-year Urban Studies student at Wheaton College.

Young people are at the heart of SchoolHouse Connection’s mission. I was reminded of this during the 2018 DC Summit.

My name is Ed, and I graduated with Highest Honors from a Blue Ribbon High School District in Illinois. I am a third year Urban Studies student at Wheaton College.

I was 15 when I experienced homelessness on my own after my father, who was struggling with mental health issues, abandoned me. However, I would not have referred to myself as homeless at the time, because my experience did not look like the media’s reductive, one-dimensional portrayal of homelessness. This is what can happen when we lose sight of the humans we are working with to end homelessness: we forget who they are, where they are, and what they need. Instead, we assume these things, and this has the effect of misplacing our well-intended efforts and resources.

This past June, my SchoolHouse Connection peers and I came from all over the U.S. to Washington, D.C. to speak truth — our truths — to power and to each other. We continued to brainstorm possible countermeasures to the roots and symptoms of cyclical homelessness through the lens of our own experiences — the experiences we own. We continued to demystify myths surrounding homelessness and highlight the complexity and the urgency of the issue. We continued to urge policymakers to invest in us, and shared our stories as the testament to the possible return on their investment. But most importantly, we continued to share our lives together.

This trip was very meaningful to me. They are very meaningful to me, my SchoolHouse Connection friends. Our time together was a revival of some sort … of resiliency, of being nurtured, and of past pain and trauma. Our shared house was full of all of those things, and I couldn’t help but wonder how our Airbnb on New Hampshire Avenue witnessed our unmitigated traumas and still stood. Then I looked around the family we have made. I remember:

and Anna Maria
and Me
and Kasey

And I was reminded that we were afflicted on every side but not crushed. We were perplexed but not in despair. We were struck down but not destroyed.

To Amy, Barbara, Patricia, Liz, Ardis, Andy, Irene, and Tia… you know how easy it is us for us to retreat and internalize our invisibility. Thank you for proactively seeing us. Your work is grounded and effective because of it.

Thank you to those who see us. Thank you to those who empower us. Thank you to those who work with us in ending homelessness.

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