Abolishing Homelessness

Walking with Westmont College – Seeking Justice In Santa Barbara

One of my personal desires for Uffizi in the new year was to be more of a force mobilizing Westmont students to engage the city and assist the college with a more sustainable vision for mission in Santa Barbara.  The picture above is of an opportunity I had to share about the needs of unsheltered populations in front of a Public Health class at the college.  In the 2017-2018 school year Uffizi has intentionally partnered with Westmont in many new and exciting ways.

I am now one of the team members working with Westmont’s Downtown Program for Social Entrepreneurship.  Each semester students receive academic credit for internships with partners in the city while learning about God’s heart for the community.   Through tailored mentoring and empathetic collaboration, students are liberated to creatively disrupt their comfort zones and faithfully love their neighbors.  My role is to mentor each student toward sustainable community engagement and offer a few experiences in the city.  We have 20 students we are working with – and so far I have met with each student individually to carve out a personal plan for the city.

One of the students mentioned that she would love to be stretched to try more public speaking.  She is currently at part of Bread of Life and our meal sharing with Friends without Homes.  I am going to assist her with writing about that experience and sharing about it at Santa Barbara City Council during public comment.  This will help combine her experience with advocacy to bring about social change.

            At Bread of Life we have officially begun our transition toward empowerment – we are changing the question from how can we serve the street population to how can they serve us and how can we learn from them.  Our first step this fall is to bring together a small group of leaders who currently are experiencing homelessness and start to engage them in leadership.

            And finally I am working closely with the Provost’s Office at Westmont College to bring Stacy Jewell to the college in February.  She is a survivor of human trafficking and she will be telling her story through spoken word, theater arts, and will be speaking in a chapel service on Monday, February 12.  We want the entire campus to know that human trafficking and sexual exploitation is happening to our young women and men in our county and that we have a few avenues to love and serve this population.  I believe this will be a great way to connect the college to our Community Collaborative meeting the immediate, short term, and long term needs of survivors.

            So thanks for your support – my heart is to mentor the next generation to engage the city and your partnership is making it happen!