When I came for a job interview for the Homesharing Coordinator position in 1997, I was given a pocket folder with brochures about the organization. The picture on the pocket folder was Still Moving In– a drawing of two black children whose family is moving into the neighborhood. The children are being stared at by the neighbors. There is no violence or unwelcome – but you get the sense that this black family may be one of the first in the neighborhood. One senses that there is either potential for a confrontation or for a welcome.
When I was given this folder with information about our programs, I immediately understood the mission and I wanted to further it. I knew that I had found the place that I wanted to be.
My husband, children and I are a trans-racial family. Open Communities’ mission of creating a welcoming and just community is very close to my heart. It is fulfilling to work in a place that promotes one’s personal values and that seeks change by empowering people.
My family lives in Skokie. We chose this community because it is diverse. We wanted our children to blend in. We wanted to be accepted. We have neighbors from India, China, Korea, Saudi Arabia, the Ukraine and the Philippines. Our family felt welcome and our children take for granted that they have close friends from everywhere in the world.
At Open Communities, I am the Coordinator for our Homesharing Program. I match homeowners who have an extra room for rent with persons looking for an affordable room. By creating matches (which are often inter-racial, inter-cultural and/or inter-generational), I promote our mission by increasing diversity in our service area one household at a time.
I have learned at Open Communities how crucial housing is to a person’s quality of life. For this reason, I believe in the importance of affordable housing. Too often, I speak to working persons who cannot afford market rate apartments. They are forced to live in sub-standard housing and they feel a loss of dignity and hope.
It is always exciting when residents who are organizing around a housing or social justice issue in the community contact us for help. I have learned through our advocacy work that individuals do have power to change things. Check out our website to learn more about our community organizing successes.
It is fulfilling to work in a place that is striving to make things better. I think it is important to love what you do… and I certainly do.