Happy Hellos and Hard Goodbyes, 2018 Edition – Part One

By Catherine Hinrichsen, Project Director, Seattle University’s Project on Family Homelessness

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Tess, Madison and Katie celebrate graduation with SU-themed treats from Cupcake Royale June 12.

This is always one of my least favorite tasks — saying farewell to a student team at the height of its camaraderie and success. This year, it happened in a blur. There was just too much going on at the end of the 2017-18 school year. In the final days leading up to graduation, we:

  • Co-hosted a major eventIgnite Project Homeless with The Seattle Times, June 7
  • Finished up final edits on the documentary our student team produced for Affordable Housing Week, “Central Division
  • Completed the infographic for the 2018 Count Us In point-in-time count of homelessness, for All Home (the third year in a row our student designer has created this piece)

In the midst of all this, the goodbye to our incredible team of students felt inadequate and hasty.

So it’s time for a more fitting farewell as we post our annual tribute to our graduating students and the incoming team — Happy Hellos and Hard Goodbyes. Part One is the hard goodbye, a look back at some of the incredible work by our student team Katie Bradley, Tess Riski and Madison Vucci.

A staggered but high-powered start

Let’s start with some words from the first student to join the team, Tess.

“When I first started at the Seattle U Project on Family Homelessness, I wasn’t quite sure what I’d gotten myself into. I knew I was hired onto the project to help combat family homelessness in the region, but I wasn’t sure how to go about creating those solutions. And I don’t think I was alone in that feeling. In fact, I believe that many in our region – Seattle, King County, the broader Pacific Northwest – feel a sense of powerlessness at the thought of ending homelessness. How can one person, after all, solve an entire crisis? I see my fellow residents in Seattle internalize this belief. For some, it is expressed through anger at the homeless, guilt within themselves or dismay for the government. (Seattle City Council is a notoriously easy scapegoat, though I think many still struggle to point out what, specifically, our elected officials – who we voted into office – are doing wrong.) It is, after all, a lot easier to blame others for the homelessness crisis than to reflect internally and ask oneself:

1) How have I or the systems from which I benefit exacerbated this crisis?

2) What can I do personally to make a positive impact?

This internal reflection is what I spent the last twelve months doing. And during these twelve months, I learned that, while there are many naysayers out there, there are also dozens of wonderful organizationsparticularly our partners – who strive to answer those two aforementioned questions on a daily basis.” — Tess

We got off to an unusual start this year because our team was somewhat patchwork till January 2018, due to summer internships and a study abroad.  Till then, individually or in pairs, they produced some great work in summer and fall, including:

  • The Voter’s Guide on Housing and Homelessness website, a partnership with Solid Ground, Housing Development Consortium and Seattle-King County Coalition on Homelessness. Tess worked long hours building the site, where we posted responses from 12 of the 21 (!) Seattle mayoral candidates. The site drew more than 3,000 views before the primary.
  • A Get Out the Vote video that Tess and Madison put together right before the primary, garnering more than 1,200 views in one day.

 

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The online ad that Madison designed, which ran in Crosscut; it features her illustration of the two general-election candidates.
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Katie and Madison learned how to write poetry in the Pongo method, and how to teach others, at the October training.  

And then there was The Florida Project — our favorite film about family homelessness! Madison and Katie attended the screening in October, and Katie wrote an insightful review, in which she addressed issues like overcoming the judgments that start to creep in while watching this challenging young mother try to keep her family afloat.

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Katie and Madison at the Pacific Place screening of “The Florida Project” in October 2017.

The team comes together just in time for HHAD

It wasn’t till January that Katie, Madison and Tess came together to work as a team — but then they were unstoppable. Here they are in January as they started planning their incredibly successful events in winter and spring 2018.

Team 2017-18 in January 2018
L-R: Madison, Tess and Katie, taking a break from their “craft project” creating images for their HHAD events.

From the day they first started finger-painting images and slogans about homelessness for postcards, stickers and posters, it was clear this would be an unprecedented campus event for Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day (HHAD). It culminated in a visit to the office of Sen. Christine Rolfes, chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee, where they presented more than 500 postcards from the SU community urging action on homelessness in Washington. They even got mentioned in Sen. Rolfes’ constituent newsletter.

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The team earns recognition in Sen. Rolfes’ newsletter.

 

To document their experience, they created unique reflections; Katie created a flipbook, Madison wrote about the design project and Tess reflected on the “imposter syndrome” she overcame as a first-time advocate. Check out their projects here.

No senioritis: Taking on their biggest project

Our usual capstone event each school year is a campus and community event for Affordable Housing Week. This team decided that their event would be a screening of a documentary about gentrification in the Central District, which they set out to produce themselves. It was a massive task, but they handled it splendidly, interviewing five leaders (including our project alum Ashwin!) and filming throughout the changing Central District.

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In the editing room at SU, home away from home for several weeks: L-R, Madison, Katie and Tess.

On May 15, with moments to spare, they finished the film, “Central Division: A documentary exploring gentrification in the Central District,” and screened it for about 50 students, staff and community members. The event included a post-screening conversation with community leaders, which they facilitated. Here’s their recap and reflection on what they learned.

 

 

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L-R: Madison, Katie and Tess facilitated a discussion with guests Miriam Roskin, Patience Malaba and Sean Abdul.

While most students would then focus on graduating, they decided they wanted to go back in the editing room and polish up the film. It’s now available to watch on YouTube.

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Once a student on our team, now a local expert and important partner: Ashwin Warrior talks about gentrification in the documentary.

 

Overcoming obstacles

All this great work was set against a highly stressful spring marred by tragedy.

Tess, in her role as investigative editor for campus newspaper The Spectator, broke the story of the theft of stacks of our student newspaper because a faculty member deemed the cover inappropriate. It led to some painful campus-wide conversations about inclusivity. (But it also earned The Spectator and its adviser, Prof. Sonora Jha, an award from the regional chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists for their courage.)

We also lost one of our co-workers, Adrian Mayorga-Altamirano, our department’s student assistant who died unexpectedly in April. Taking time to grieve was important for our team, and we will always feel the loss of Adrian, a business student who we remember for his brilliance and helpfulness.

What’s next for the team

Some parting thoughts from Madison.

“From brainstorms, to crunch-time, to celebrations, to overtime, and all in between, we were the best team of three I could have dreamed to be. Together, we pushed one another to new levels and always inspired the further development of our ideas. We had one another’s backs and always gave equal commitment and partnership, even though we were all full-time students with at least one other job commitment each. I feel honored to have worked with these ladies and wouldn’t change anything about our time together.” — Madison

Clearly, saying goodbye was also bittersweet for these amazing young women, who truly enjoyed and were inspired by each other.

With graduation behind them, our trio joins the pantheon of distinguished project alumni and sets forth into exciting new ventures:

  • Katie Bradley, Strategic Communications and Public Affairs graduate, will start a job at Amazon in marketing later this summer.
  • Tess Riski, Journalism graduate, starts grad school at Columbia School of Journalism this fall.
  • Madison Vucci, Digital Design graduate, will be freelancing as a designer and flinging awesome pies as she plans her next chapter.

Congratulations to all three of them and many, many thanks for their stellar work this year for our advocacy partners, our university and our project!

Team 2017-18 in January 2018-2

 

A Look Ahead from Katie

“The experiences you will gain by working on the Project are seriously impressive. Take note of all that you do and have pride over what you accomplish.  I was able to develop so many new skills – like videography and making a flipbook — by working on the Project. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and push beyond your boundaries. You will gain more skills with the challenge and will have way more fun as you learn. I am so excited to see the work that you do and what is ahead for the Project!” — Katie 

Coming this fall: Part Two — Happy Hellos, as we welcome the new students to our team.

Join Us Jan. 21 for a “Social Media for Housing Advocates” Workshop

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Thursday, Jan. 21, join us virtually, or in-person at Seattle University, to learn how to use social media skills to effectively advocate for affordable housing and other social justice issues. It’s our fourth annual “Social Media for Housing Advocates” workshop, and you can watch online — or join us in person at Seattle University. Continue reading

A Night of Optimism About Homelessness — All Home’s “Engage-Raiser”

 

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Our partner Erin Murphy of Housing Development Consortium inspired this “Polaroid frame” designed for maximum photo sharing, complete with logo and hashtag #allhomeoptimism.

More than 200 energized community members gathered at the new Optimism Brewing Co. on Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood Tuesday night, Nov. 17, for “All Home @ Optimism.” Continue reading

Trauma-Informed Care, StoryCorps, and Host Homes for Youth: Some Highlights From WLIHA’s Conference on Ending Homelessness

Written by Perry Firth, project coordinator, Seattle University’s Project on Family Homelessness and school psychology graduate student

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Caption: This image captures just how many people attended WLIHA’s Conference on Ending Homelessness. As you can see, we were a big crowd! Image from WLIHA.

 This year I had the pleasure of attending the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance’s Conference on Ending Homelessness in Tacoma, May 13-14. I was there with over 800 people (the largest turnout yet), all devoted to making homelessness rare, brief and one time.

There were many highlights, including Firesteel’s presentation on StoryCorps and strategic communications, the Project on Family Homelessness’s “Dessert Dash” and StoryCorps workshop, and the sessions on host homes for homeless youth and trauma-informed care.

Firesteel shows how StoryCorps can be a valuable communication tool

I loved Firesteel’s presentation on StoryCorps and strategic communications. As part of the Project on Family Homelessness, I have had the honor of helping the StoryCorps effort reach its full potential. As the Firesteel team and Joaquin of WLIHA discussed StoryCorps’ many uses and the role of strategic communications in ending homelessness, I was reminded of how many lives this project has touched.

This was further emphasized to me when our own team hosted a workshop and “Dessert Dash” with Sherry and Franklin Gilliard—a family whose courage in the face of home loss and homelessness was profiled on NPR’s Friday StoryCorps segment this past November. Continue reading

Can Social Media End Homelessness? A Look at New Research

By Lindsey Habenicht

Lindsey

Note: Please welcome to our team Lindsey Habenicht, a Seattle University strategic communications junior. Lindsey just got back from a highly regarded student research conference, where she shared a unique perspective on homelessness. Here’s her report.

“3,772.” I paused and watched people exchange confused glances.

“3,772,” I continued, “That’s how many men, women, and children were without shelter during King County, Washington’s three-hour street count. That number is an increase of 21 percent over those found without shelter last year, yet it is still assumed to be an undercount.” I paused again — this time to see looks of disbelief.

“Are you surprised?” 30 heads nodded yes. “Case-in-point, popular media suffers a severe void when it comes to sharing stories of homelessness.”

This is how I started my presentation at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research, April 16-18 at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Wash. I had been invited to share my research as one of 3,000 students at the conference. Continue reading

3rd Annual Social Media 101 for Housing Advocates Hangout, Jan. 27 – Register Now!

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Erin Murphy of YWCA is one of the Hangout leaders; this is a screen shot from the first Hangout two years ago.

 

Effective use of social media is a great way to reach a target audience, and advocate for the issues you care about — like affordable housing and an end to homelessness.

So, join us on Tuesday, January 27 at 10:30 a.m. for our third annual “Social Media 101 for Housing Advocates” Hangout. Co-hosted with Firesteel and the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, this will be a free training session for people who want to learn how to use social media to advocate online for affordable housing issues. The session will help you understand and use social media sites and apps like Twitter and Facebook, and show you how to join with organizations to be an online housing advocate.

There are two ways to access the training:

Option 1: Access Online By Yourself via Webinar

The organizers will be facilitating this workshop as a live Google Hangout video conference, running from 10:30-11:30 a.m. So, participants will be able to attend from anywhere they choose. Register now!

Option 2: Watch in a Room with Other Advocates

If you want a more hands-on approach, you can come to Seattle University’s Chardin Hall, room 145, to watch the live 45-minute webinar and exchange ideas and ask questions afterwards till about 12:30 p.m. Seattle U’s social media marketing specialist, Sarah Hyde, will be on hand to help us think through how we can use social media techniques to advocate year round. Coffee and snacks will be available. Please register by Friday, Jan. 23 for this option if you can.

Agenda for Option 2
10:30 – 11:30am      Video conference
11:30 – 12:30pm      Follow-up coaching and Q & A
Coffee and snacks will be provided. Please bring your own lunch.

We highly recommend that you bring your laptop and/or a mobile device with you, but it is not required. Paid parking is available on the street (12th Avenue is easiest) or in the Murphy garage.  There is also limited free two-hour parking in the streets east of the university. Please see this campus map for details on parking and room location.

Hope to see you there!

A new face at the Housing Alliance… is our own Haley

This is a re-post from the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance blog. We’re  “loaning” our project assistant, Haley Jo Lewis, to the Alliance to help with communications work such as preparing for Housing & Homelessness Advocacy Day, Feb. 17, 2015. Check out some of Haley’s other work here on this blog, like her edited StoryCorps piece, “Stepping Into Homelessness,” and her review of the  SIFF premiere of our American Refugees films. Haley also wrote about the Seattle premiere of the film “@home” at the Hack to End Homelessness, and the filmmakers loved her cartoon of Mark Horvath so much that they plan to use it on fund-raising t-shirts to support screenings of the film.

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A new face at the Housing Alliance

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Haley Jo Lewis, Communications Intern

My name is Haley Jo Lewis, and I am excited to be Washington Low Income Housing Alliance’s new Communications Intern! I am originally from sunny San Diego and moved to Seattle three years ago to attend Seattle University where I am currently in my senior year studying communications.

During my time at Seattle University, I have become aware of many issues in our community and have become engaged in social justice work in a variety of platforms. I have both volunteered with and worked for the Seattle University Youth Initiative as a member of the Redhawk Reading Corp. For this program, I volunteered as a reading tutor in elementary classrooms, where students from low-income families received extra support in learning to read. This work was extremely rewarding. Seeing the progress students made throughout the year because of our program made me realize how possible it is to create change in our communities. Building meaningful relationships with program participants is something I’ll always cherish.

When I saw an opportunity in the Communication Department for work at the Project on Family Homelessness, I couldn’t turn it down. I have always been interested in the issue of homelessness. I’m particularly interested in changing the negative public perceptions of individuals experiencing homelessness. I hope that, someday in the future, we can humanize the issue and build a grand-scale social movement to end homelessness.

My first experience working in coordination with the Housing Alliance was at Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day 2014. I met their “communications guy,” Joaquin, and others from the Housing Alliance and attended a workshop on using social media for advocacy led by Joaquin and members of the local advocacy organization Firesteel. It was my first experience at Advocacy Day, and I was pleased to find that both the workshops as well as the legislative meetings were easy to follow. Although I had very little prior knowledge of the legislative process, I found that by the end of the day I had a better understanding of how it all works, and I felt like I had really made an impact in being there. I am now so excited to attend Advocacy Day 2015. I knew right from the beginning that the Housing Alliance knew what they were doing!

As a Communications Intern, I am excited to assist in social media work, research, data analysis, digital design, and many other tasks for various Housing Alliance staff members. I hope my skills will help keep the Housing Alliance running smoothly and effectively. I also hope to be a bridge between them and the Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness on various projects, keeping these two awesome organizations in communication with one another, supporting one another’s work, and working together to end homelessness.

I am eager to gain experience in the communications sector of nonprofit and advocacy work and am honored to be given this opportunity! Hopefully I’ll see you at this coming Advocacy Day on Tuesday, February 17, 2015 in Olympia.

 

Photos: Top: Me at Advocacy Day 2014 (Photo courtesy of Catherine Hinrichsen). Bottom (left to right): Me, Graham Pruss, and Joaquin Uy at Advocacy Day 2014 (Photo courtesy of Catherine Hinrichsen).

 

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Happy Hellos and Hard Goodbyes On Project Team

We’ve just said some sad good-byes to most of our team members on the Project on Family Homelessness, but we welcome several great additions to our team. Here’s who will be impressing you in the months to come, and a reflection on some of the outstanding work of our former team members.

New Project Assistants:  Krista Kent and Emma Lytle

Krista Kent is a senior in the Digital Design program, minoring in Spanish. She’ll be our new design assistant, taking over for McKenna Haley (see below).

Krista Kent photo digital design assistant Project on Family Homelessness
Krista Kent joins our team as digital designer.

Krista comes to us with a strong background in design and active involvement in the community. Since winter of 2012, Krista has worked with Seattle University’s Center for Service and Community Engagement. She created flyers and informational design for the Center, and has worked at Bailey-Gatzert Elementary assisting teachers in classrooms and helping first graders in an afterschool-tutoring program.  Recently Krista had the opportunity to re-brand First Cup Coffee House into Mama’s Café, as part of the 23rd and Union Small Business Consultation and Community Enhancement Project.

Emma Lytle is our new project assistant, replacing Tiana Quitugua, who just graduated (see below).

Emma Lytle photo project assistant Project on Family Homelessness
Emma (left) at the American Refugees photo booth hosted by Firesteel; she’s posing with Jediah McCourt.

Emma is entering her senior year as a strategic communications major at Seattle University. She joins us with a passion for working with non-profits and with children. She recently finished a seven-month internship with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, where she handled sensitive communication with families and healthcare professionals. Emma also worked for several years as a daycare teacher and loves working with children and families. Some of our partners might remember Emma from her enthusiastic volunteer work and professionalism at the Hack to End Homelessness and the SIFF American Refugees premiere. She’s busy working on outreach for the StoryCorps project.

New Grad Assistant/Project Coordinator: Perry Firth 

We’re happy to welcome back Perry Firth, in an expanded role as half-time Project Coordinator, taking over for Graham Pruss (see below).

Perry Firth photo Project coordinator Project on Family Homelessness
Perry Firth returns in an expanded role.

Perry is continuing her graduate work at Seattle U in school psychology and spent the past school year as a research assistant to a visiting scholar and counseling psychologist. Their work together focused on prevention and wellness,  ecological counseling, and toward the end of their time together, school shootings.   That position ended just as we needed to fill our position — lucky us!  Perry is committed to approaching mental health issues through a social justice lens, and has a special interest in anxiety disorders, adolescence, and issues that disproportionately impact women.  She is a gifted writer who is especially adept at analyzing the intersection between academic research and its applications to family homelessness, just as she did in these Firesteel posts on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and the all-time most-viewed Firesteel post, on dehumanization, “Why We Keep Walking.” We’ll be looking for her to help us understand more about the important links between housing and academic achievement for children in our state.

 

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Hack to End Homelessness: Tiana’s Take (New Video)

What was the role of Seattle University faculty, students and staff in the Hack to End Homelessness? They were planners, community liaisons, hackers and volunteers.  This awesome new video by our project assistant, Tiana Quitugua, tells the stories of the many folks in red at the Hackathon.

Tiana is one of the stellar Seattle U students graduating this weekend, and this is one of her final projects for us.  Thank you, Tiana, for capturing this experience and telling it from the SU perspective, and for all your great work for us.

For more about the Hackathon, read our recap.

StoryCorps and Gates Foundation Launch “Finding Our Way” Project

NOTE: This blog post is about our StoryCorps project launch. For more recent information, see our StoryCorps page.

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One of the most memorable StoryCorps segments for the family homelessness community is the story of Tierra Jackson, who with her former principal John Horan reflected on what it was like to be homeless in high school. Photo credit: StoryCorps.

Every Friday morning at around 7:30 a.m., millions of people around the country are entranced by a weekly public radio segment in which everyday Americans tell the stories of their lives.  It’s the beloved StoryCorps, and it’s coming to our region in summer 2014 to find stories about families who have experienced homelessness.

While only about 50 of its stories per year make it onto National Public Radio, StoryCorps has actually recorded more than 50,000 stories in its 10 years. The stories are archived in the Library of Congress.

This July and August, people in Western Washington who have experienced family homelessness will be able to tell their own stories as part of the new StoryCorps project, “Finding Our Way: Puget Sound Stories about Family Homelessness.” The project is funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, who asked our Project on Family Homelessness to serve as the local coordinator.

We’ll be working with local host partners to find stories from among their current and recent clients, and also reaching out to the public to find people who have experienced family homelessness in their past. The stories will also be available for our advocacy efforts to end family homelessness in Washington state.

Find out how service providers can help us find the stories and use them to advocate. Got a story? Click to jump to the details.

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