Anna Vu: Presentations of Impact 2020

Anna Vu: Presentations of Impact 2020

Summer 2019 was the most glorious milestone in my 23-year lifetime. It was the year I graduated from Arizona State University, and it was also the year I enrolled for Public Allies. After graduation, I entered Public Allies with an initial objective to learn more about the healthcare system in Arizona and the United State as a whole. I started with that goal, because I have seen many low-income, immigrant families struggling for receiving proper health care due to the complexity of the enrollment process and language barrier. Unfortunately, I was not able to be an Ally of any healthcare nonprofit. The door closed, and another door opened. I was chosen to be an Ally of the Human Services Campus.

The Human Services Campus is a nonprofit organization that is helping over 6,000 individuals experiencing homelessness in central Phoenix, Arizona. At the Human Services Campus, I worked as a data analyst. I enjoyed doing surveys and helping clients with directions together with two other allies. I didn’t thoroughly see the important role of my work until my first report was presented to all the partner agencies in a meeting. They gave me a lot of positive feedback. They asked for more copies of the report, because they found the information helpful for them to understand the client’s experiences on the campus. After my first report, I understood clients’ feedback is very important for proper program implementation and improvement, especially for nonprofit organizations that have a stringent budget. The first day I officially started working at the campus, I felt extremely excited and overwhelmed at the same time. This is the first office job I had, working with many professional individuals to serve the population that I don’t have much understanding about. One of the vivid memories on my first day was about a middle-aged client who tried to talk to me, and my mind went completely blank with my mouth shut for a couple seconds. I didn’t know how to respond. It was not fear that I encountered but more of a realizing moment. I realized that it was the first time I made eye contact and talked to an individual experiencing homelessness.

Over the course of 7 months, clients become much more familiar to me. I knew somebody’s name, his life story, her struggles, what he liked to listen to, what she’s looking forward to. I have become friends with some clients where we sometimes quickly caught up with what has been going on. Besides clients at the Human Services Campus, I’m also very grateful for all the staff at the Human Services Campus who are diligently working every single day to be the sunshine in someone else's life. I still remembered all the happy smiles and the excitement from my office coworkers after one of the clients got housed after months or even years of being on the waitlist. I admired the burning passion the staff carried with them everyday to work regardless of the tremendous stress and the heavy daily workload. They are truly great proof that good people do exist in this world.

The Human Services Campus has brought many impacts to individuals experiencing homelessness. Daily routine on campus starts at 6 a.m. when the alarm goes off in the shelter, everybody gets up and gets ready to line up for breakfast at the St. Vincent de Paul building where each of the clients got handed a plate with food from the staff. Clients then proceed to round tables and take a seat to enjoy their meals. After breakfast, it’s the clients’ freetime to choose how they want to spend their day. I worked at the Lodestar Day Resource Center, so I usually see clients walk in the building at 7:30 a.m. Clients go up to the staff station to ask for hygiene packages, phone charging services, directions, emergency clothing, and many more miscellaneous services. Clients also make reservations to talk to the Department of Economic Security for food stamps and health coverage requests, Veteran Outreach for veteran assistance, Saint Joseph the Worker for potential employment, Chaplaincy for bible study sessions and A New Leaf for rapid rehousing assistance. If clients are new to campus, they can stop by the Brian Garcia Welcome Center to sign up for a campus ID card and take a housing assessment. Housing assessments help clients have access to the Coordinated Entry Program where the staff can see clients' profiles and assign permanent housing support and rapid housing referrals. Many clients come to campus without shoes, proper clothing and empty stomachs. Clients will be directed to Andre House where they can find food, clothes and phone access. If clients need a bed, they can line up in front of Central Arizona Shelter Services (CASS) to sign up for a bed. Unfortunately, CASS is only able to provide 350 beds. As a result, not everyone who lines up at CASS will be guaranteed a bed. Besides shelter, clients can have access to medical attention at Circle the City or with the EMT team. Clients also can access dental services at Brighter Ways. In summary, all of the services I mention above are immediate services that are available on campus. There are many other services such as Power Shower, Eyeglasses, HIV testing, Community Court, Financial Education, etc that are available on campus on certain dates.

So far, I talked about how the impact from the Human Services Campus has influenced who I am. I’m going to shoutout to Public Allies staff and all the Allies. I have met many smart, genuine and kind souls for the last 8 months. Many allies gave me guidance for my professional development and be my companion on my personal development. We had a lot of fun times together at Community Space Days with good conversation over the lunch breaks at different exotic local restaurants in town. Before Public Allies, I knew I had issues with trust and vulnerabilities. I tended to think about my own good over somebody else. Public Allies has taught me what it means to live a community life with people you trust. I have opened up myself a lot more than I used to be, and am no longer afraid to show people my flaws and vulnerabilities. Another important thing I learned from Public Allies is that I learned to assume positive intent when situations did not play out in my favor.

In regard to my personal growth, I see many positive improvements. After joining Public Allies, I enlarged my social circle, gained confidence to talk to people at big conferences, asking questions and formed professional relationships. I realized that I could have been on my own all along if I chose to walk to success by myself. There are many people out there in the nonprofit world who are interested in my stories, my ambitions, and they are providing me with resources and guidance to show me direction my path can lead to. In addition, talking to people who are experts at their field is a great learning opportunity for me to learn about different career choices.

I’ve mentioned a great deal of all the positive personal growth I’ve learned in the past 10 months. Truth to be told, I also faced many struggles to become a better self, and pressures from being an adult without fully being able to afford myself. I’m still a baby bird who is trying to fly high to the sky without knowing very well the direction on the compass I should head to. However, one thing I certainly know is that I’ll keep swimming and searching until I know exactly what my gut has been trying to tell me. As Steve Jobs has said, you cannot connect the dot moving forward. I truly believe in that. Trust yourself and keep searching. At the end of the tunnel, you will figure something out, and one day you will realize the dots are all connected.