The Hub of Hope

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the 2018 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Carolyn Ziembo, MSW ’19

This summer I was fortunate to serve as the Graduate Policy Intern in the Office of the Deputy Managing Director of Health and Human Services (HHS) for the City of Philadelphia. Over the course of the summer, I worked on a variety of projects, many of which focused on the City’s response to the current opioid crisis and associated northeast Philadelphia encampments, homeless prevention, and affordable housing. The experience provided me with a wealth of information on how the City serves vulnerable populations and responds to health crises, as well as skills in program management and memo drafting.

One of my favorite projects was supporting the Hub of Hope. The Hub of Hope is a daytime engagement center for people experiencing homelessness. It is operated by SEPTA, the City of Philadelphia, Project HOME, and Philabundance in the subconcourse adjacent to Suburban Station. At the Hub, which opened in January 2018, guests are welcome to have a warm cup of coffee, eat a meal, take a shower, wash their clothes, get medical care, and access treatment and housing. Pulling from a list I maintained of current projects and tasks, I prepped agendas for meetings at the Hub every other week with program managers from the City and nonprofits. Attending the meetings was a great way to see how municipal staff and nonprofit organizations interact and successfully run a social service program together.

In addition to Hub of Hope logistics projects throughout the summer, such as ensuring volunteers had clear protocols and instructions in accessing to the Hub, I also took part in the outreach for Meals and More, a grant program designed to bring Philadelphia volunteer meal providers to the Hub. I was involved in every aspect of the grant process, including contacting potential applicants and collecting applications, creating criteria determinants and score sheets, scheduling and attending the review panel, and ultimately giving notice to the grant winners. I enjoyed working with the meal providers, who were all thrilled to begin serving at the Hub. It was another example of the City and nonprofit organizations partnering to best serve Philadelphia’s vulnerable populations.

Beyond the Hub, I sat in on many meetings and observed firsthand how the City is responding to the opioid crisis in Philadelphia. Again, collaboration was key in the planning and implementing of various strategies and meetings were attended by people from across many City departments, as well as from nonprofits directly serving those affected by opioid use disorder. It was also encouraging to see the City regularly hold meetings with representatives from Kensington-area community groups and advocates. Additionally, I was fortunate to go on a site visit to the area hardest hit by the opioid crisis and see for myself the work that had been accomplished. I found the trip very useful; being able to visualize what was being discussed in meetings was important to understanding all aspects the topic. I think this is true for any policymaking or programming.

Although I had worked and interned in nonprofits previously, this summer’s internship was a new look for me into how City government functions. I was fortunate to meet and learn from so many knowledgeable people and am grateful for all the insight I gained.

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