What a Journey it Has Been…

28 07 2009

by: Jackie Go

A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

I would like to reflect and share some of the amazing things I have learned during our social innovation course as we developed a solution to homelessness. I have learned so much about the complexities of social problems, the many different perspectives that each person can have on an issue, and I have been hugely inspired by the many people I have met who are  committed to making a difference in their community.

I think it’s really interesting how life sometimes leads you in a certain direction and I find that I was really pushed to explore the homeless issue more this semester. I have always been interested in working to solve homelessness and was the coordinator of the Cold Wet Weather Shelter Program in the first year of its operation at Coquitlam Alliance Church in the winter of 2007.  After that I lived and studied in Vienna, Austria for one year and when I came back to SFU to finish my last term of university, I had no idea that this social innovation course would teach me so much about business, social issues, and how to make change happen. Ever since choosing to explore the issue of homelessness once again in my life, I feel so thankful for the many people who have given their feedback and helped us develop our idea. Our professor helped us get connected with homeless advocates, I knew several from my work with the Cold Weather Program and the more I delved into the project, the more names and people I recognized. I have realized how small a community can really be – especially when we started meeting various members of the community to get feedback on our project. We heard about the Port Coquitlam Mayor’s Action Team on Homelessness (MATH) and when I looked on the list of members, I realized that one of them was one of my high school teachers! What a small world it is indeed, and I was luckily able to make contact with him and invite him to our final class presentation as well. So I have definitely learned about the power of personal networks and networking in order to broaden our reach and get feedback from as many different perspectives as well. I am interested in pursuing a career in corporate social responsibility, and this project has taught me a lot about stakeholder engagement, and the different needs and desires that each unique stakeholder has with regards to their interest in the homelessness issue – from outreach workers interested in getting people out of homelessness, to bankers who want to ensure the financial viability of the project, to potential property investors who want to know how they can get a return on their investment.

One thing that really impressed me was the desire to help the homeless that came from each person that we asked feedback from. I definitely see potential for us to develop a solution using the knowledge and skills of a community of people who want to help the homeless. Creating a link between the different stakeholders and creating a platform for dialogue and sharing ideas in order to develop, modify, and customize the model has been an exciting journey and I hope to continue it as we take advantage of the connections which have already been made. Thank you to everyone for following our blog – your support and encouragement have been invaluable.

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