Pam has interned at Wellspring for the past two years. This year, she organized Wellspring’s Guest Action Committee. Her mission – born out of the committee – was to campaign for increased access to Regional Transit [RT] for people who are low income.
She tirelessly attended Regional Transit board meetings, answered snarly emails from RT representatives and amplified the voices of the guests at Wellspring and all people in Sacramento dependent on mass transit with limited means to pay the area’s steep RT rates.
On the cusp of relocating to Seattle, she will continue this work from afar under cloudier skies – fueled by her passion to fight for the needs of her community.
What does Wellspring mean to you?
“Like an oversized sweater on the clearest and crispest of winter nights, Wellspring has wrapped me completely in warmth and safety, leaving me free to explore every star and spectacle and speck of dust,” she said.
What have you learned from Wellspring?
“Oh, everything! Wellspring offers an environment conducive to personal growth and the development of your identity – personally or professionally,” Pam said. “It really provides the opportunity to get well-integrated into whatever aspect of the social work industry that you are interested in.”
How has your identity developed while you have been here for the past two years?
“So many things about my way of being are thought as distasteful for women,” she said. “You are not supposed to be loud, unmoving or opinionated – and these are things that are very central to who I am. Wellspring has afforded me the chance to create and find a context [activism] where those things are valued.”
“As well, Wellspring is very accepting like the mission says, ‘Hospitality with Dignity and Love’,” she said. “They take that very seriously with the interns, the guests, the volunteers and the staff. Everybody just seems to be welcomed here and nothing about who you are is wrong or, at least, I haven’t felt that way and that’s neat – that’s not to be taken for granted.”
How have the guests impacted you?
“I don’t ever feel like I am separate from them,” Pam said. “I very much felt like I was walking with them on a journey. I’m privileged to be able to join and bear witness to people’s successes when they have them and to give them strength through their failures. Our relationship is reciprocal – the guests tell me when they are proud of me. I live in Oak Park so a lot of the guests are also my neighbors. They offer me support when they see that I am not super happy whether they know all of the details of what’s going on or not — it [Wellspring] is a community.”
And why do you think that the Wellspring community is important?
“It offers this very unconditionally safe and accepting space which is rare for anyone, but especially rare for women of color living in poverty with multiple children or multiple generations of children,” she said.
What will you take away from this experience?
“A sense of community, a pretty significant resume booster – having developed a program [the Guest Action Committee] and friends – relationships,” she said. “Every relationship means something to you and informs the rest of your life. The relationships that I’ve formed here have been significant. It is just a space where I have utter confidence in being able to be completely honest whether it is acceptable or not, because it just always is.”
Why is activism important to you as a social worker?
“You can get as many people as humanly possible housing, but you will never make a dent in the homeless count until you fix the reasons why it is okay for people to sleep outside,” she said.