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    Changing the Conversation

    Helping Children Respond to Homelessness

    My kids have known about homelessness since the moment they knew about things. They are currently 5 and 8 years old and were gestated, born, and grew up while I was running a drop-in center for homeless young adults. In addition to constantly hearing about my work and people with whom I worked, they came to picnics, holiday parties, talent shows, and many other community events connected to the drop-in center.

    They knew by name some of the young adults who lived or panhandled on the streets of Harvard Square. They made pictures for my clients who moved into housing “so they have something pretty on the wall." Their room is decorated with artwork created by homeless young adults; they say “I hope I can be that good at art one day.” One rainy and cold fall morning, my oldest – who was 6 at the time – looked at me over breakfast and said “Rain, rain, go away. Mama’s friends have nowhere to stay.” My children are aware of homelessness, poverty, and injustice – understanding this is part of understanding their mother.

    A Home in My Heart: Lessons Learned from my Father’s Experience of Homelessness

    A day didn’t go by without my wondering about his whereabouts. Certain days were always more of a cause for concern; bitter cold winter nights, scorching hot summer days, and holidays—especially Christmas and Father’s Day. “I wonder where he will sleep tonight? Will he have enough to eat?” These were my perpetual thoughts as a child with a father experiencing homelessness.

    Throughout most of my adolescent life, my father lived on the streets, facing complex mental health and substance use issues. These issues cycled him in and out of recovery housing and street living. My father’s separation from my mother, along with his severe mental health and substance use issues, complicated our relationship. After about 10 years on the streets and a traumatic brain injury, he now safely resides in an assisted living facility.

    Ending Houselessness is not Ending Homelessness

    End Homelessness

    I recently came across a well-researched online article on homelessness in the United States, and the potential for us to end this problem – if we just had a little more political will to fully fund the housing subsidies needed to sweep the streets clean of the chronically homeless population.

    While I am generally pleased to see any journalistic attention paid to this daunting and commonly ignored social blight, I worry about the incompleteness of the conversation.

    First, who are we talking about?

    Supporting Families with New Babies: We All Have a Role to Play

    May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. Nearly 44 million American adults and an estimated 13 –20 percent of children living in the United States (up to 1 out of 5 children) experience a mental disorder in a given year. According to Postpartum Progress, one in seven new mothers experience postpartum depression or a related illness and the rate for women of low socioeconomic status increases to one in four.

    May is also a significant month in my family. This year, I turned 40, and my oldest daughter turned 5. I have been thinking about Mental Health Awareness Month and these milestones, reflecting on how my life changed when I became a mom and who supported our family along the way…

    Insecurity – Stories of Growing Up


    Security. This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently. I grew up in a home marked by addiction, dysfunction, and for a period of time, poverty. While I knew my parents loved me, my father’s alcoholism set the tone for much of my childhood. As I got older, left home, and engaged in my own much healthier relationships, I thought I had escaped unscathed. In many ways, my sibling took away some of the more common traits of being raised by an alcoholic parent, but I didn’t seem to carry these with me.

    Holiday Tips for Supporting People with Substance Use Disorders


    The holiday season can be tough for many, especially those experiencing homelessness, trauma, and mental health and substance use challenges. Marc Dones shares his tips for supporting family and friends living with substance use disorders during the holidays and throughout the year.

    Children are Mirrors: Viewpoints from a Parent in Recovery

    "It's not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can't tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself."  ~Joyce Maynard

    As I enter my seventeenth year in recovery, the “buzzards” I set loose during the time I was in the grip of addiction, trauma, mental health challenges, poverty, and homelessness continue to come home to roost. One of my greatest accomplishments in spite of myself during this period was fathering four children. Just about any man can produce a child with a willing partner, but being a father requires far more, and it may take years to learn how to be the best parent possible.

    Not One Child. Not One Night.

    To kick-off Homelessness Awareness Month, we are posting this blog by Ellen Bassuk, MD that originally appeared on Huffington Post on October 8, 2015 at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ellen-l-bassuk/not-one-child-not-one-nig_b_8258580.html.

    How can it be in a country as affluent as the United States that 2.5 million children are homeless each year? Although the numbers are climbing, family homelessness is absent from our nation's agenda.

    I am a Survivor

    I am a survivor of domestic violence and all of its consequences and side effects: emotional instability, housing instability, risk to health and safety…all of it. I am a survivor, and this is my story.

    Intimate Partner Violence and Child Well-Being: Building Resiliency

    The Center for Social Innovation will host the Dawn Jahn Moses memorial lecture on June 30th about the intersection of intimate partner violence, child well-being, and resilience with human rights activist, William Kellibrew, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department Children and Families, Linda Spears, Carmela DeCandia, Psy.D., faculty at the Massachusetts General Hospital’s Institute of Health Professions, and Rachel Latta, Ph.D., Director of Trauma and Violence Prevention at the Center for Social Innovation.

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