This summer I have had the honor of working with two amazing public policy interns. Matt Weinstein, a senior majoring in American studies at Carleton College, and Nick Leach, an urban studies major from the University of Minnesota, will have made Beacon a stronger organization when they leave us at the end of August.
Matt’s primary project has been facilitating meetings with our current and future advocacy congregations to see how we can best build the interfaith movement to end homelessness. In process, we’ve celebrated with many Beacon Citizens our collaborative advocacy to increase funding for the Homeless Youth Act this past legislative session. Thus far, Matt has arranged meetings with from 11 congregations. All have expressed an interest in deepening our advocacy relationship. (We’ve also mapped out another 24 congregations we would like to meet and partner with.)
Because Matt is an aspiring seminary student, we’ve also had plenty of conversations about interfaith messages we can use to inspire communities in the work to end homelessness. In fact, as I am typing this, Matt and I are exchanging emails about the “Golden Rule” found in nearly every faith. Matt refined it for housing purposes to say: “As we would choose a comfortable and safe home for ourselves, so too we believe that all of our neighbors should have a warm and secure place to sleep every night.”
I’ve also loved working with Nick. Before joining us, Nick had volunteered with Families Moving Forward, our congregation-based emergency shelter program. He did this as a congregant of House of Hope Presbyterian Church in St. Paul. Because of this experience, Nick was also keenly aware of the advocacy House of Hope and Beacon were engaged in in our partnership to develop Prior Crossing, proposed housing for 44 formerly homeless youth in St. Paul.
Skilled at using Geographic Information Systems, Nick took to drafting maps that would help in our advocacy focusing on the St. Paul City Council. I remember calling Nick to let him know that just before casting her vote in favor of appropriating $1.1 million to support Prior Crossing, Councilmember Amy Brendmoen mentioned the helpful maps Beacon had drawn up showing homeless youth come from neighborhoods throughout St. Paul. It was a treat hearing Nick’s joyful laugh on the other end of the line!
Great interns make for sad goodbyes.