In the rearview mirror: the 2012 National Conference

written by naehblog
August 28, 2012

Today’s guest blog is by Daniel Kelly, an MSW student at the University of Michigan and Intern for the Corporation for Supportive Housing Michigan Program.

2012 was my first year at the National Alliance Conference on Ending Homelessness. I’ve been involved in homeless services since after my undergraduate in 2006, but I hadn’t been able to make the trip until this year when I interned with the Corporation for Supportive Housing.

Unfortunately, I had a full class load the first two days of the conference. In fact, Tuesday was the final exam for one of my classes! My plan was to leave straight from class in Ann Arbor, Mich., and make the drive out to Washington D.C. for the conference. In preparation, my excited Mother took my car into the shop to ensure it was ready for the road. Everything checked out, so after I turned in my exam at about noon, I got in my already packed car and began the nine-hour journey to the Capitol.

The experience was inspiring. At the conference, being surrounded by so many people committed to ending homelessness got me fired up. This feeling of inspiration continued during our Michigan Capitol Hill Day visits. I was fortunate to meet with Congresspersons Gary Peters and Hansen Clarke, who were both very receptive to the messages we brought to them about the negative effects of sequestration efforts. After the conference, this inspiration lasted through my next two days in D.C. as I toured the museums and memorials while staying with my Uncle who lives in the area.

After a few days of sightseeing, I left for home early Friday evening. It was raining heavily during the first few hours of the trip. As I drove through the windy mountains of Pennsylvania, the worst thing happened – my car began to sputter, eventually stalling out on the side of the road. Luckily, in some strange coincidence (or was it irony?), right before the trip, my Grandma had added me to her AAA emergency auto coverage. At the time, I didn’t see the need and told her I was “OK,” but she insisted. Boy was I was happy she signed me up!

With the newly added coverage, I called AAA and was picked up and towed to the local shop in Johnstown, PA. I waited there until Saturday morning when the owner was able to look at my car. The diagnosis: a blown fuel pump. The shop had to order the part so they wouldn’t be able to finish the repair until at least Monday. Because I had to be back in Michigan by that Monday for work, I called my brother who drove more than five hours to pick me up.

The experience was extremely frustrating, and at the time it deflated the inspiration and passion I took from my time in D.C. Looking back, though, the supports of my family along the way helped to blunt the frustration of this experience and maintain my passionate spirit. It could have been way worse without their support!

The people we serve, the individuals and families experiencing homelessness throughout the nation, may not have the same support I did during their own difficult situations. They may not be able to lean on their family or friends when their car breaks down, or even worse, they may have been laid off from their job, or fleeing domestic violence, or dealing with a mental health issue.

This is why we do the work we do – to support people through their difficult times. This way they can, like me, continue to maintain passion and inspiration in their lives.