I consider myself lucky. My parents came from modest backgrounds and large families. Every resource was shared, saved, and utilized to its full expense. Both strove toward higher education; both earned their degrees. As college graduates, they worked hard from the bottom of the corporate ladder, saving what they could along the way, and accomplished enough to provide a comfortable life for me and my brother.
My brother and I were given everything we ever needed. We were taught the difference between needs and wants, and our needs were always met. We may have wanted and not received new gaming systems or clothes, but the minute a bone broke (and many did, we were rushed to the doctor without a second thought. There was never a question if we would have food on our table, heat for our house, or a stable place to live and call “home.”
I realize just now how fortunate I am. Beyond having the financial stability for my basic needs to be met, my home provided emotional stability and a place of refuge from the hardships of adolescence and growing up. I am lucky to have parents who can support me financially, emotionally, and mentally. Through their guidance, I have the confidence and ability to navigate the world around me. My college education was both a gift and an expectation from them, something I truly cherish and want to use to benefit my community. I gained valuable experience learning to serve those in the community and aiding in their overall wellbeing.
Home Matters because every person should feel a sense of refuge, stability, and safety from their living situation. It is the right of every individual to have their basic needs met, physically and mentally. We are all born to different situations and environments, but the need for a safe, secure, healthy home applies to everyone. Suffering due to a lack of these means is more than unnecessary. It is unjust. When a community’s citizens are taken care of and treated well, every person benefits. Working with an organization striving to provide safety and stability to neighbors in need begins the process of mending a community and is something I feel truly honored to be a part of.
Carolyn Smith is a SUNY New Paltz graduate majoring in Communications. She interned with RUPCO as a gran writer assistant in Fall 2017.