A tired, bearded figure stands on the street corner holding a cardboard sign while waving at the cars stopped at the red light. In the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, we often drive by, without sparing the man a glance or even a second thought. He has become invisible, and is labeled as lazy, inferior, and someone who warrants suspicion and apprehension. However, I have come to see that Poverty and the Arts shatters these stereotypes. They call their artists who have experienced homelessness into the spotlight, and encourage them to utilize their unique and creative perspective of the world as an artistic lens.
When I began my internship with Poverty and the Arts, I set out seeking a better understanding of the homeless experience and was eager to work for an organization that focused on empowering, what I would define as, the most marginalized people group in the Nashville area. Moreover, as a Faith and Social Justice major at Belmont University, I was especially interested in listening and learning from the people who were experiencing homelessness. I wanted to understand the ways in which we as a society should be addressing their needs and, more than that, preventing situations where individuals are forced to the margins of a community.
In my time interning with POVA, I have received far more than I have given and far more than I expected. POVA has equipped me with the understanding that anyone can become homeless through no fault of their own. It has shown me the humanity of the homeless population that mass society continually fights to suppress. I have learned the root causes of homelessness in the Nashville area and how to overthrow stereotypes. I have also found a new community of people who I would now consider friends. Thank you POVA for teaching me all these things and so much more. I will continue to support your mission and advocate for your vision for years to come.