Guest Perspective


Is Your College Food Pantry Ready for the Chopped Challenge?

Many college students experiencing homelessness are also hungry and food insecure. In response, some colleges and universities create food banks and food pantries. In honor of National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, we highlight Holyoke Community College's unique strategy to raise awareness, partner with faculty, and create delicious recipes by creating a “Chopped Challenge.” Read here.

3 Things I Learned at RealCollege

By Jillian Sitjar, Program Manager of Higher Education at SchoolHouse Connection. "Attending #RealCollege 2018 was a “crash course” in the best sort of way. This conference was unlike any I have ever attended. Here are my top three reflections of the #RealCollege Covening."

Failing Mia and Kiley: The Family Homeless Assistance System is Broken

By Mary Ellen Mitchell, Co-Director, Lydia’s House, Cincinnati, OH. "On the early afternoon of August 21, 2018, we received a call to our intake line. St. Vincent de Paul asked us to provide housing for a young woman, Mia, and her three-year-old daughter, Kiley. We were told that Mia had been living in her car with Kiley for over a month.”

A Year Later and It Is Not “All that Ends Well” for Many

By Debra Albo-Steiger, District Homeless Liaison for the Miami-Dade County Public Schools. "The trauma faced by the children, youth, and adults who experience hurricanes or any natural disaster can be felt for years. A year after these storms, we still see the hardship faced by so many with roofs that have not been repaired and homes that were not able to be saved."

It Was a Revival of Some Sort

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. “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… Our time together was a revival of some sort … of resiliency, of being nurtured, and of past pain and trauma."

Why Career and Technical Education Can be a Perfect Fit for Students Experiencing Homelessness

By DJ QuirinMa, Federal Programs Data Analyst, Montana Office of Public Instruction, Christy Hendricks, Data control specialist for CTE, Montana Office of Public Instruction, and Heather Denny, State Coordinator for Homeless Education, Montana Office of Public Instruction. “Here in Montana, we began to look at the programs that all high schools, both urban and rural, already had in place. We found that for students experiencing homelessness, the completion of three or more Career and Technical Education courses lowered the likelihood of dropping out by half. There were no dropouts among the students who participated in a Career and Technical Student Organization.” 

Homelessness: They Just Don’t Get It

By Destiny Dickerson, an SHC scholar who is majoring in Psychology at San Diego State University. "I did not sleep in a tent, or on a park bench, but I was still homeless. There are many students and people who are living just like me and deserve to be validated in their homeless status. We have already lost so much. We deserve to be recognized.”

DC Summit 2018: Refinding Family, Speaking Truth, Advocating for Change

By Megan "Mutt" Martin. Megan, age 20, graduated from the Anchorage School District, AK. She is majoring in Nursing at The University of Alaska, Anchorage. "I realized that I was an advocate. I wasn’t just a youth spinning a sob story to get someone’s attention. I was a young adult talking about the realities that homeless youth face. I faced these realities in my childhood, and I know that many others still face them, and will continue to face them in childhoods yet to come."

Not on the List: How HUD Homeless Policy Leaves Children Behind

By Jani Koester, President of the Dane County WI Homeless Services Consortium Board of Directors, Resource Teacher with Madison Metropolitan School District’s Transition Education Program. "Mom went to coordinated intake to check on the status of their name on the priority list and found out that they had been removed from the list because they are no longer staying at the shelter or in their car. It was a long night for the family because they had been in the top 20 and thought that by now they would be connecting with housing. No one told them their name had come off the list. No one helped them look for other resources."

Want to Help Students Experiencing Homelessness Go to College? Take Them There.

By Kylee Fuhr, District Homeless Liaison, St. Lucie Public Schools, Florida. “I was astonished to learn that we had 106 McKinney-Vento seniors registered, but we had never arranged a tour of our local institute of higher education, Indian River State College. I knew I had to figure out a way to get these students interested in college and aware of the benefits of pursuing their undergraduate education…”

Hike Against Homelessness

By Leslie Camden Goold, MSW, School Social Worker/McKinney-Vento Homeless Liaison, Central Valley School District, Washington. This June, I am stepping outside my comfort zone to honor the unknown challenges that these students face every summer and raise awareness about homelessness. I am going to hike a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail to acknowledge the daily struggles these students are facing without the safety net of school. I will publicize my journey in the local media, and invite those moved to help to contribute to my McKinney-Vento program.

Working for the 2% Chance

By Beth McCullough, Homeless Education Liaison, Adrian Public Schools, MI. He had been in 5 different high schools in 2 years. He missed his whole freshman year because of homeschooling that resulted in no credit. His chance of graduating on time? “About 2%,” someone said in a meeting.

Voices of Youth, Voices of Truth

By Susan Piazza, Assistant Director, Title I and School Support Team, WI Department of Public Instruction. “I recently had the honor of introducing a session at the National Title I Conference, hosted by the National Title I Association in Philadelphia, PA. The session was titled, ‘Voices of Youth: Education, Homelessness, Hope.’ As I sat there listening, I was once again reminded of the truth behind the impact that school, district, and state level systems can have on the future of a child or youth experiencing homelessness.”

Acts of Kindness, All Year Round

By Cynthia A. Núñez  MSW, McKinney-Vento Liaison, Lewiston, ID. "One night last fall, I lay awake, replaying a conversation I had had with a fellow social worker regarding homelessness in our community. I recalled his words about “the overall lack of concern for a population that many choose to ignore” and I contemplated what could I do to make a difference." 

A Place Without People

By Jessie McCormick. Jessie works at Sasha Bruce Youthwork and is passionate about making resources such as education and health care available to homeless youth and young adults.

Homeless Again This Year

I sat down with a young man I have worked with since he was in middle school. He is now 17 years old. He was homeless with his mother, and he is now homeless as an unaccompanied youth. “Well Jay, it’s that time of the year. What would you like for Christmas?” I asked.

By Supporting HEASHFY, You are Telling Me that You See Me, and that You Support My Education.

“I want to stress the importance of the Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act (HEASHFY). I, myself was an unaccompanied homeless youth throughout high school and college and I know first-hand how homelessness can affect access to higher education. I have created a list of reasons why HEASHFY is important to me and why it will be instrumental in the lives of students experiencing homelessness.”

Doing What We Can—As Schools and Individuals

By Marta Martinez, McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Liaison, Northside ISD, Texas. "As the enrollment of students identified as being impacted by Hurricane Harvey increased, so did my concerns about how their needs would be met as they enrolled at campuses throughout our large district."

This Was Not Supposed To Happen To Me…

By Jonathan Houston, Equal Opportunity Schools, former Tukwila School District, WA liaison. “‘This was not supposed to happen to me.’ That was the first thought that went through my mind during my first year as a McKinney-Vento liaison. I finally had a decent job and had begun to progress toward my professional career in providing equity. I was the guy who was supposed to help everybody else…but homelessness was not supposed to happen to me.”


By Jordyn Roark, BSW candidate, University of North Carolina at Pembroke. "You walk into an office and are asked for your name and address. You reply that you don’t have an address. The secretary looks confused and says, 'You must have an address. Where do you sleep?' You cringe and restate that you do not have an address. The secretary fumbles through some papers, lets out a strained breath, and finally looks up to state: 'We need an address in order to move forward.'”

Health Care, Homelessness, and Education: A Personal Plea

By Dakota Chronis, Student, North Seattle Community College. Early in life I struggled significantly with schooling because there were many basic needs that I never had met. I lived in unsafe environments due to financial instability. The constant threat of being harmed or becoming sick was scary because I didn’t have access to medical care. My untreated chronic health issues prevented me from focusing on schooling.

On Being Noticed, Feeling Safe, and Finding Strength in Community

"The issue of homelessness is often an invisible burden outshined by images of tattered clothes and messages written on cardboard. The true face of homelessness is so much broader than that. We will truly elicit change when we are able to help our community and those in power see those faces." We present a very special guest perspective. Two SHC Young Leaders - student and peer mentor - share their thoughts and feelings about speaking truth to power in Washington, DC.

HUD Homelessness Policy: One Young Family’s Experience

For years before I lost my housing, I was trapped with a parent in a home that was unsafe and unsuitable for living. I spent three years parenting my own child as a minor, aware that if I were to reach out for housing supports or express fear for my safety, I could be forcibly separated from my daughter and we could both end up worse off.

Partners in Liberation: Three Early Learning Case Studies

By Lisa Berglund, Masters in Public Policy, University of Maryland. When I met Trevon* at the therapeutic nursery at his family’s shelter in Baltimore, his teacher gave me a warning. “Be careful about getting close to him,” she said. “He gets scared around strangers.” This little boy, not yet two years old, had already been through significant trauma in his short life, which made him wary of his surroundings.

Unaccompanied but Not Alone

By Nakita Scott, School Social Worker, Polk County, Florida. During the first few months of working with the HEARTH Project, I wasn’t aware of the vast needs of unaccompanied homeless youth. Then I encountered a young lady who asked me a simple question: “What is the difference between a debit card and a credit card, and how do I balance my checkbook?” It was then that I realized these youth were on their own, without basic skills to take care of themselves.

Crying in the Financial Aid Office: A Student’s Story

By Lizzy Shoben, AA, Social Welfare, Central College of Florida. I didn’t know what to expect the first time I stepped foot in a college financial aid office, I assumed it would be the easiest part of college. Ha, joke was on me. Who knew I would be bawling in front of a stranger, telling them about one of my most humiliating and heartbreaking experiences of my life?

How My Childhood Has Helped Me Be a Better Homeless Liaison

Back when I was in high school, my brother and I went to see our high school counselor to express our desire to attend college. Right away she expressed her concerns that college might not be the best choice for us. She recommended we set our sights a little lower.

No Answers. Just Connections.

By Roxana Parise, Homeless Liaison, Bellingham Public Schools, WA. I was 11 years old the first time I witnessed an immigration raid. My family was living in central California and we were working in the fields picking blackberries. For a long time, I had nightmares that I was going to be taken away from my family, never to see them again...Today, as a homeless liaison, I work with many families who have at least one undocumented member in their family.

“We Are Advocating; Yet, You Remain Invisible”

By Anthony Kibble, McKinney-Vento State Coordinator, Oklahoma. During my career, I have had the opportunity to focus my efforts on strengthening the Oklahoma child serving system from both a direct practice and administrative level. This experience has supported me greatly in the administrative work that is often focused on compliance, grant administration, policy, statutes, and laws.

Ready to Learn, Ready to Thrive

By Ellen McLaughlin, Homeless Liaison, Sarasota, FL. To say that Alex, age 17, was overwhelmed when she gave birth this past spring would have been an understatement. She had dropped out of high school and was on her own and homeless. Having access to prioritized child care changed everything for them, because it meant that both Alex and her son could move forward together.

No Quitting Today

By Beth McCullough, Homeless Education Liaison, Adrian Public Schools, MI. The police were called. There was violence. Parents went to jail. It was one of the worst days of her life. When all was said and done, she landed with a friend and needs to pay rent. “I have to quit school and get a job,” she said.

Behind the Scenes

By Irene Sauceda, BSW, MSW Candidate, Texas State University. I walked into the counselor’s office, a place I sought out to check the status of my GPA, but this time I was called in. Curiosity raving in my heart, I walked to the back office of the counselor for the senior class. "What could a senior counselor want with me if I’m only a junior?," I asked myself.

Fish of Many Names

By Beth McCullough, homeless liaison, Adrian Public Schools. I have a fish tank in my office. Right now it has only two fish. It could use one more. When students come into my office they want to feed them and I let them. Preschool students to high school students like to gaze at them.

Throwing Away Boxes

By Beth McCullough, McKinney-Vento Homeless Liaison, Adrian Public Schools, MI. They had lived in five different places within six months. Their path included staying with friends, two shelters and a motel. When all of their resources were spent, I put them in a motel for a week with no idea of where they were going to go after that.

Nowhere to Go

Beth McCullough is the McKinney-Vento homeless liaison for Adrian Public Schools in Adrian, MI. We are honored that Beth has agreed to share her essays as part of our Guest Perspectives blog.

Pin It on Pinterest