CSUMB Service Learning Institute Students – Fall 2020
CSUMB Service Learning Student Reflects on Service with Dorothy’s Place and Homelessness
By Courtni Branch, December 2020
edited with permission
My name is Courtni Branch, and I am a third year Psychology major at CSUMB. I am minoring in Human Development and Family Studies, and hope to use what I’ve learned in college to help those with mental illnesses one day. After graduation I hope to find an internship or position that can help me learn more about the populations that I want to serve in the future. I would love to focus on adolescents who are struggling with mental health issues. I have not decided on a specific career at this point, and want to explore my options even further once I graduate. HOPE represents mental health awareness, one of my greatest passions.
Over the last two months, I have been engaging in research on various topics related to homelessness. My research has taught me a lot about my own privilege, and how homelessness can affect just about anyone. I am personally very privileged to have a roof over my head, amongst all of the other luxuries that I enjoy. I get to enjoy driving a car, going to my job, and getting an education, all while having a place to live. While this has always been my life, I recognize that people who are homeless may have zero experience of having such amenities. Prior to doing my research, I thought of homelessess as a black and white issue. I believed that people who were homeless had the ability to make the necessary changes to their lives. I thought that it came down to them being lazy or unmotivated from being in the streets for so long. I now know that anyone can end up homeless, and that it’s usually not easy to get back on your feet. I learned that one reason people stay homeless for so long is that the financial costs of even applying for a new home are high. There are numerous steps to integrating back into society. One of the first steps, finding employment can be difficult as some employers judge based on a lack of experience. Also, homeless people often do not have access to the proper materials needed to apply for a job (computer, writing utensils, phone, etc.) Some people whom we would never suspect to become homeless, end up on the streets. A person’s life can change in the blink of an eye, something I think people should take into consideration before judging a homeless person.