On April 25th, Nicole Martinez Pamela Angell James Vonbehren Randy Harris and Matt Mercer attended the annual NMCEH “Housing for All’ conference, themed “Community Collaboration and Change” at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque. It seemed like twice as many people attended as last year, or at least they had a really great turn out. This year Randy Harris was awarded “Volunteer of the Year” by NMCEH for his work moderating the Great Conversations with the homeless at Mesilla Valley Communtiy of Hope in Las Cruces, out of which the Camp Hope program was formed in the Fall of 2011. I also nominated Nicole Martinez for “Non-profit Lead of the Year” for which she won an honorable mention for her outstanding work as Executive Director of MVCH for her first year.
Stephanie Lefevbre, who organizes the conference invited James and I on scholarship to attend the conference. It was so good to see James there, telling his story and talking about his progress since transitioning into housing and finishing up his first year of school. When he and I started managing Camp Hope a year and a half ago, I don’t think either of us could even have dreamt what an amazing success it would turn out to be. Or that we would become homeless advocates and have so much support in Las Cruces, all over New Mexico, and even as far away as Denmark.
They had some really inspirational speakers this year, and 12 different workshops over the course of the day. Becky Kanis spoke to us about her leading the 100,000 Homes Campaign, as well as her work in Los Angeles with Project 50 and her work with the homeless in New York City. As a woman and a Veteran, her enthusiasm and devotion spread out to the audience with laughter and insight about how we can change housing for chronically homeless in our country. There was also a plenary workshop given by Kathleen Guarino from the National Center on Family Homelessness on Trauma Informed Care. Her presentation was well informed and truly relevant, and it was breath of fresh air to hear that the social services movement are focusing on PTSD in all its diverse forms as medium to engage their employees to be more mindful and help create more pathways for their homeless clients to heal and make the next steps in their lives.
It was such a privilege to be invited back again to Albuquerque again this year, and James and I truly appreciate the chance to meet our peers in this field, and can’t wait to go back next year and share all of our new success and “HOPE” with all the amazing people in the state of New Mexico who are tirelessly working to end homeless with compassion and dignity.
Thanks to Stephanie Lefevbre and Hank Hughs and NMCEH for inviting us!