Nashoba Kicks off National Poverty Month with Homeless Presentation


Emily Doran, Contributor

Nashoba is making its first strides towards ending poverty by kicking off National Poverty Month with guest speakers from the “Faces of the Homelessness” Speaker’s Bureau. With one out of every six Americans suffering from poverty each day, being aware is the first step to make a difference.

The “Faces of Homelessness” organization is compiled of people who are or have been homeless and use their experiences to bring awareness to the issue and what the community can do to help. During the presentation, speakers shared their stories and connected with their audience to open minds on the actuality of homelessness.

The “Faces of the Homelessness” Speaker’s Bureau has spoken to over 18,000 audience members across New England. They visited Nashoba to shed light on the seriousness challenges of homelessness.

Ironically enough, the two women’s names were Cheryl and they shared their experiences with a group of Nashoba students and how they managed during those tough times.

Cheryl (1) described her family growing up as “not rich, but not poor”. They were comfortable. Her parents always told her as long as she gets her diploma and a job she should be set to go. That, however, ended up not being the case for Cheryl. She graduated high school and got a job but ended up having what she described as a “whirlwind romance” and got married later having two children. With her children obtaining medical issues, repeatedly spending time in the hospital, divorcing her husband, and not being able to maintain a job, money became tight and “…homelessness was inevitable”

In 2004, Cheryl and her family became homeless. They moved into a homeless shelter for 10 ½-11 months where they were “living on top of each other”. Homelessness took a toll on her family, however she states that homeless people will be the “strongest people you will ever meet.”, and wraps up her story by saying, “Homelessness is not a “thing” it’s a circumstance.”

Cheryl (2) grew up in an abusive household in Cambridge, MA. Her father beat her and she ran away to New York when she was just 13. She had nothing, and in order to get by she became a prostitute. She “wanted to forget what [her] father did to [her].” so she started doing drugs. Her “pimp” would beat her up, therefore resulting in more drugs. She attempted suicide as well. Eventually, the drugs, the beating and the insecurity took a toll on her mental health.

“The physical stuff you can deal with; the mental stuff is pretty rough,” She stated.

She then moved back to Boston and lived under a bridge and once she moved into the homeless shelter across the street, she stabilized and has now been sober for almost 19 years. “I’ve led a very long life,” she said.

Homelessness is a circumstance that affects countless Americans. It’s not always “drug addicts”. It “can happen to anyone at any time” as Cheryl (1) clarified. Join Nashoba during National Poverty Month in January to help put an end to homelessness.