a letter from our intern
Hi! My name is Luca Day and I have been fulfilling an internship at Quixote Village for a few months now through the Center for Community-Based Learning and Action at The Evergreen State College. Before working here I had plugged into other community service positions around Olympia, but had minimal experience working with folks who have experienced homelessness. Because of this I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of my time at QV and what the work would look like. I have come to be very grateful for my position here and all that it’s taught me.
The most rewarding aspect of my internship has been to build relationships with the residents here. It’s an usual situation to essentially go to work in someone else’s home. As you might imagine, it takes times to establish trust and comfort in a sensitive scenario such as this. It’s been a gift to have the residents share their stories with me, and to watch as we get to know one another a bit better each week. It’s also been a gift to learn from them as they constantly widen my lens of understanding and prompt me to explore the ways in which my experiences shape my perceptions and expectations.
Another aspect of this internship that really stands out for me is my broadened awareness of how difficult it is to transition out of homelessness and navigate living in poverty. Part of my role here is doing advocacy work, and it’s mind-blowing to me how many walls I come up against in trying to help people access the most basic resources. I am seeing firsthand the importance of Housing First principles and also seeing how it’s truly not enough to just be housed. The amount of time and energy people must devote to seeking assistance from social service agencies is exhausting and almost a full-time job in itself, depending on the severity of an individual’s needs. Not to mention all the barriers in trying to do this work - hours worth of commuting on public transportation to run a single errand (But where does the money come from for bus passes?); trying to find access to the technology that will help someone get to these resources (How do you afford a phone? What if you need to go to the library to access the internet but you have no money to do so and you are dealing with major disabilities?); the sheer frustration of navigating institutions and the seemingly esoteric knowledge one must possess to do this (we just had a training on Medicare insurance and I don’t know anything more about it than I did before - which was very little). My biggest takeaway is definitely wanting to broaden other people’s visibility of how complicated and taxing it is to reach some sort of baseline stability when transitioning out of homelessness. I want to expand awareness of how providing housing is just one step out of many, and how truly impressive and monumental it is for people to undertake this transitional process. As those of us who are more privileged and housed come to understand this, I believe we can learn to better support those experiencing homelessness.