NPR Highlights Speaker Bureau
On Independence Day, NPR's All Things Considered featured a story on the National Coalition for the Homeless and the Speakers' Bureau. This was an excellent overview of the program, and its remarkable reach. The NCH program speakers go all around the country to speak, and are available for urban plunges in the nation's capital. Please check out the story here. Pam Fessler interviewed two members of the bureau, George and John. I really like how the guys focus on the dignity of everyone, and the desire for most not to be ignored:
Steve Thomas and George Siletti are also members of the National Coalition for the Homeless' speakers bureau. "Seemed like all of a sudden, people walked by me like I wasn't even there," Harrison tells the group. "I remember going into a restaurant to get what I called a 'two for one.' And the 'two for one' for the person experiencing homelessness is the warmth and the food for the price of the food. And so, I was optimistic. They took my order. But when they brought me my food, it was to go. Because that was the message. Go," he says.
"And those same people that used to walk by and say, 'Hey, Steve' everyday stopped speaking, just stopped even looking in my direction. And that kinda hurt," he says, his voice shaking. Thomas eventually got help from a volunteer group. He's been off the streets for more than three years.
The staff at NCH do a great deal of work with a limited amount of resources to put this all together. If you would like to schedule a speaker for DC or would be willing to pay for a speaker to come to your conference/school/church group you can contact NCH at 202.462.4822 or go to their website.
For speakers in Cleveland contact Larry Davis at NEOCH at 216/432-0540 ext. 103. We have a Street Voices program with trained volunteers with experience in homelessness. We do around 40 presentations a year mostly at area high schools, colleges or in front of religious organizations. We have both women and men, and until last week we had a high school student who would go out to do presentations.
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