Thursday, September 27, 2012

Welcome, Nate!

Growing up, I was extremely lucky to have a very strong support system – family, friends, teachers, coaches, and many others. As I began my teen years, I learned about the importance of giving back to the community through volunteering with the Red Cross, peer tutoring, and fundraising for causes such as “Relay for Life”.

Upon graduating from a small high school in Upstate NY, my academic career led me to Carthage College in Kenosha, WI, where I majored in Sociology with minors in Criminal Justice and Spanish. While in undergrad, I continued to volunteer and do social service work with the Boys and Girls Club of Kenosha, serving as President of Pals and Partners (a local Big Brother/Big Sister sort of organization), and participating in events like the AIDS Walk, Wisconsin. After graduating, I entered the work force in the child welfare field, working for several DCFS agencies in Wisconsin and Illinois for 7 years. Simultaneously, I was able to continue with my education, studying Addiction Studies at Harold Washington College and beginning the MSW program at UIC in 2010.

My first internship was with the United States Probation Department, working in the Supervision Unit of the Mental Health Division. In this internship, I held a small caseload of sex offenders and people with severe mental illnesses – This entire journey has led me to my position as a Program Intern at the Lincoln Park Community Shelter while pursuing a Masters of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago. 

I have learned so much in the past few weeks at LPCS. Each day I have come to work, I’ve left knowing that the time I spent here was helpful to the Guests and meaningful for me. The program and work of the staff and volunteers here at LPCS is extremely commendable and I am looking forward to adding to their effort over the next 8 months. The experience has already been rewarding and will prove to be a great endeavor of my passion for social justice. Thanks LPCS for the warm welcome into your community!  

By: Nate Rosato

Friday, September 21, 2012

Good People

Note: This piece contains spoilers for the play Good People which is currently playing at the Steppenwolf Theater.

Last week I accompanied LPCS Guests to the Veteran Night play at the Steppenwolf Theater. The play was Good People, and it addressed intersecting issues of class and race. The main character was Margie Walsh, who is a middle-aged, single mother from Southie (a poor neighborhood in Boston). Margie had just been fired from her job as a cashier at a local grocery store. She proceeded to look for help from her old boyfriend, Mikey, who has now become a doctor and lives in Chestnut Hill (one of the wealthiest parts of Boston). The first meeting between the two of them is wrought with underlying tension that only continues to build. As the play unfolds, the difference in socio-economic class between Margie and Mike becomes more and more obvious. We find out that Mikey has not kept in touch with anyone from his childhood and that he has not been back since he left for college, although he tries to redeem himself by mentioning that he volunteers at the Boys and Girls Club by acting as a board member. A difference in the way they speak also denotes their differences in class. Margie uses Southie slang where as Mike speaks “properly”.

The scene in the play that struck me the most was when Margie and Mike are arguing back and forth about why Margie has never moved out of their childhood neighborhood, while Mikey has done so well for himself that he is now living in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the city. Although they never pinpoint one specific reason why Mikey has done so much better for himself, it does beg the question of if it is really possible to pull yourself up the socio-economic ladder without any outside help. I think it hints at how difficult it really is to successfully work your way into a higher socio-economic class, especially if you are not given a great set of cards to begin with.

                While it was fun to hang out with the Guests and see the play, it also forced me look introspectively at these issues. I kept thinking about how the issues that the play was highlighting were very real experiences of many people. It struck me how easily the names of neighborhoods and the cities could be changed to virtually any American city and the issues that the play explored would still be very pertinent. Something else that I kept thinking was how interesting it is that someone would pay money to see a play that discussed very intense and often uncomfortable issues of class and race, issues that are still very relevant to today’s society but that are often pushed under the rug for the sake of convenience. The end of the play offered no solutions but I thought it was a perfect way to end such a play as I feel like we still struggle with what kind of response to have.   
By: Dana Furuyama, Volunteer Coordinator

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Welcome, Dana!

Hi, my name is Dana Furuyama. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. This past June, I graduated with a Bachelors of Art Degree in English and a minor in Psychology. I am excited to be the new Volunteer Coordinator of the Lincoln Park Community Shelter, found through the Lutheran Volunteer Corps.

During my last year of undergraduate study, I was looking into various volunteer programs that offered opportunities to do social justice work. I came across the Lutheran Volunteer Corps (LVC), a one-year, national volunteer service program that challenge volunteers to explore spirituality while working for social justice and practicing sustainability. I went through the process of applying and interviewing with LVC. I then learned about the possible placement at the Lincoln Park Community Shelter.

In college, I was involved with several LGBTQIA organizations. I wanted to find a way that I could incorporate my previous work in the undergraduate community with my work post-graduation. As you can imagine, I was very excited when I found LPCS because they offer housing to transgender folks. The homeless/transgender community is under-served due to the lack of resources that they can safely access. I’m proud to be working at an organization that provides a safe space and many services to all individuals, regardless of their gender identity or presentation. I’m very thrilled to be working here for the upcoming year and can’t wait to get to know everyone!

By: Dana Furuyama