Majors: Global politics and religion
Minor: Poverty and Human Capability Studies
Why did you apply for this particular internship? After reading about N Street Village I was immediately fascinated by the organization and all it had to offer. I was anxious to see how a place like N Street works, and applied in the hopes of becoming better acquainted with the non-profit world. I wanted the summer to help me decide if this kind of work is, in fact, how I want to spend the rest of my life.
How did your work apply to your studies at W&L? This summer provided tangible, real-world examples of almost everything I learned in my poverty classes. It's one thing to read about hunger and homelessness; it's another thing to see, feel and live amongst them.
What was the most unexpected aspect of your Shepherd Alliance experience? How quickly I became attached to the women at N Street and how difficult it was to say goodbye to them!Favorite W&L Memory: Various hall bonding events from freshman year
Favorite Class: Poverty 101, International Development, New Testament
Favorite W&L Event: Midnight Breakfast, Homecoming
Favorite Campus and Lexington Landmarks: The Colonnade Lawn and Foamhenge
Shiri Yadlin's Shepherd Alliance internship brought her to N Street Village in Washington, D.C., a resource center that offers housing, food, day care, health care and counseling to women who have a history of homelessness and/or suffer from mental illness, addiction and/or physical abuse.
"We are N Street Village. We are a community of respect, recovery, and hope. We create a safe and welcoming place with our words and actions. We expect kindness and we value honesty and diversity".
These are the words that kick off every morning in Bethany Women's Center, the day drop-in center at N Street Village, a resource center for homeless and low-income women in Washington, DC. I have spent my summer as an intern in Bethany, where each and every day, I see, hear, and feel the atmosphere of respect, recovery and hope that permeates N Street. My daily duties include meeting the needs of the women, providing them with everything from a toothbrush, to a shower, to two meals and a snack every day. I help them with computer skills and online job applications and refill the ice cooler when it is empty, but the heart of my experience lies in the women themselves. I have been fortunate enough to be able to spend most of each day interacting with the women, whether it's by meeting one of their needs or simply sitting and talking with them.
The women at N Street do not fit your typical picture of a homeless woman. While over 75% of the women do have mental illness, a history of substance abuse or both, they are not all unemployed and living on the streets. They have jobs, families, lives. They travel from shelter to shelter, seeking the resources and help they need to get back on their feet. There are also women who were lawyers, social workers and administrators until something snapped and they wound up on the streets. A woman might have lost her job, or her husband died, or another traumatic experience suddenly turned her life upside down. My classes and readings always tell me anyone can be homeless, and N Street really shows me that. These are not deadbeat ladies sitting around waiting for handouts. They are some of the most driven, intelligent women I have ever met. They read the newspaper every morning and engage in lively discussions about the upcoming D.C. Mayoral election, the Gulf oil spill or other hot-button issues. They furiously apply for jobs and actively seek out housing, enduring disappointment after disappointment and circumstances beyond their control. And through it all, they remain incredibly positive, maintaining a realistic optimism I aspire to match.
These women have inspired me more than I can say, and the relationships I have built with them are real and lasting. This summer has uncovered a passion for homelessness that I never knew I had within me, and I hope to use this newfound discovery as I continue to search for what I want to do with the rest of my life. I have had the opportunity this summer to explore the barriers the homeless face, learn about the network of agencies available to these individuals and witness the successes as well as deep-seeded problems each possesses. If I have learned one thing this summer, it's that there is always more than meets the eye. You never know who a woman is or how you can help her until you know the woman herself. The power of relationships has really stood out to me throughout this experience, and I know I'll take that lesson with me wherever I end up after W&L.