Meet Steve Thomas. Actually, if you have been to Amizade’s D.C. site, you probably already have. Take it one step further, I would venture to say that if you know Steve you would describe him as a pivotal person in the evolution of your understanding of the homelessness and hunger issue in the US.
One of Amizade’s longest and most established partners in the D.C. area is the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH). NCH’s mission is To prevent and end homelessness while ensuring the immediate needs of those experiencing homelessness are met and their civil rights protected. NCH works to accomplish this through projects that focus on advocacy, policy, and education. Read more about them here.
We have been able to support NCH’s efforts in education by including their Faces of Homelessness Speakers’ Bureau project as part of our programming. The “Faces of Homelessness” Speakers’ Bureau is comprised of extraordinary people who are committed to sharing their personal and powerful experiences of homelessness with others. From homeless activists to riveting poets, all have found a unique way for their voices to be heard.
Steve is one of those extraordinary people who has found a unique way to make his voice heard, and it’s a game changer for those who meet and hear from him. While food preparation and other soup kitchen activities act as an introduction to the world of homelessness and hunger, it is the exposure to speakers through the bureau that add depth to the issue for our participants.
Steve has been a champion for the Faces of Homelessness project for many years, and has added an essential component to Amizade’s D.C. program consistently for six. What Steve does is important. Hearing from Steve for many is the first time that the issue becomes real; an issue of real people with real issues that aren’t too different from our own. Steve helps people come to the simple realization that the sole difference between the housed and non-housed populations is a house, nothing else.
Over the years Steve has come in and out of being part of the non-housed population. Currently, we are happy to report that Steve has successfully navigated the system and is receiving disability as well as government housing. Although no longer part of the homeless population, Steve continues to be committed to speaking on behalf of and advocating for the many people who are homeless and hungry as a speaker of the Faces of Homelessness project.
To date he has spoken to about 20 different Amizade groups, roughly 900 program participants, and has become an essential part of our programming backbone. He has even helped to inspire other movements to assist the homeless in other countries like Northern Ireland. We thank and celebrate Steve’s invaluable contribution and commitment to ending hunger and homelessness in Washington D.C. and around the world.