During the eight-week Shepherd Internship Program (SIP), international studies major Dahabo Kerow ’20 (Louisville, Kentucky) is working as the events coordinator intern at Park Place Outreach in Savannah, Georgia.
The Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty (SHECP) integrates rigorous academic study and focused direct service to disadvantaged communities and persons, enriching the education of undergraduate and law students in all majors and career paths. The intent of this program is to prepare students for lives aimed at diminishing poverty and enhancing human capability through professional and civic efforts.
“I became interested in the Shepherd internship because of its focus on showcasing the intersectionality between poverty, homelessness and social justice,” Kerow said. “I am very passionate about social justice and am always eager to understand the layers of injustice in order to adequately fight for social justice in its entirety.
“I knew by doing the Shepherd internship, I would be given the opportunity to work alongside advocates of social justice who are tackling injustice within their community,” she continued. “From this exposure, I hope to increase my level of compassion and learn about the struggles of those who are not usually considered the face of homelessness or poverty.”
Throughout the summer, Kerow’s main role at Park Place Outreach is to plan summer outings for at-risk teenagers in the residency and family preservation programs. The residency program provides shelter for 10 to 12 homeless and run-away teens who come upon the center in a multitude of ways.
The organization’s family preservation program aims to tackle teenage homelessness at its roots, as it intervenes to support families who are on the verge of homelessness. This also gives teenagers the opportunity to attend a program that provides them with activities that keep them off the streets and a meal for those who come from homes that lack food accessibility.
“As event coordinator, I yearn to plan outings that are fun, educational and enriching,” she added. “Though, most of these teens are from Savannah, they have not had the opportunity to see the beauty, history and significance of their city. This is a discrepancy that I aim to disrupt with the types of outings I plan.”
Another role Kerow has is working, alongside another intern, to revamp and centralize the volunteers coordination system that the organization utilizes.
“My fellow intern and I have spent most of the summer meeting with the city’s local United Way staff to get insight on their organization’s volunteer system and any advice they had for us to start our own,” Kerow explained. “We are excited to see this new system that we’ve created be utilized and hope that it can make things easier for the organization as they continue to do the amazing and necessary work that they do.”
Kerow said this experience has “meant the world to her.” She is someone who values human interaction, and through this internship, she’s had the opportunity to engage with those whom her boss and many others have dubbed the “hidden homeless.”
“Teenage homelessness is something that I knew existed, but I had never truly thought about the magnitude of its existence,” she said. “However, in this short time, I have seen the strength and pain that these teens embody and the necessity in funding organizations that truly protect them.
“I came here wanting a change of scenery from my previous internship as a law office aid and yearning for that human connection, yet I am leaving here with so much more,” Kerow continued. “The memories, the heart-to-heart conversations and the glimpse of hope and happiness in these teens’ eyes from attending our outings have morphed me into a committed advocate for homeless and at-risk teens.”
Kerow said this internship contributed to what she hopes to be doing in the future. She inspires to become a human rights advocate within the nation and internationally, as she is passionate about protecting and ensuring the rights of all humans.
“Park Place Outreach has shown me that it is possible to intervene and combat teenage homelessness through the many programs the organization offers and the wonderful workers who have truly personified the organization’s motto of ‘a house with a heart,’” she concluded. “I hope to carry the vulnerable lessons and memories I’ve gained from this internship into whatever avenue of human rights advocacy I venture on.”
by Kerry Steinhofer
July 24, 2019
Dahabo Kerow ’20 (left) attends an event during her internship at Park Place Outreach.