The San Francisco Bay Area is a region full of arts, diversity, activism, and most especially, dichotomous communities—we have extreme wealth and extreme poverty, often living mere feet from each other.
But this is where the Bay Area’s activism steps in: The Annual Poverty & Homelessness Symposium, hosted by the UC Berkeley Global Poverty & Practice Minor offered through the Blum Center. This event is a coming-together of people who are knowledgeable about, and advocates for, the most impoverished individuals and individuals – and they are asking, “What can be done? How can we truly make change?” The event was an open community event, though primarily aimed at Cal students.
Saturday February 20th was the 8th Annual Symposium, and agents of change came from a multitude of organizations to represent and talk about the issues faced by the populations they serve. These organizations included the American Red Cross, the UC Berkeley Habitat for Humanity, Suitcase Clinic, and the Office of ASUC Senator Diana Nguyen. And BOSS.
The stated purpose of this event was “to raise awareness about poverty and homelessness via speakers, several workshops, a panel, and a set of performances.” With discussions that focused not only on the income disparity faced by many populations in the Bay Area, but also on the mental health hurdles, medical hurdles, child care hurdles, etc. faced by impoverished communities, especially communities of color, the breakout workshops and discussions were dynamic and full of true personal and social discovery.
BOSS was represented by Gwen Austin, who was featured as the Keynote speaker. As a woman of color who has experienced hardship and holds two Master’s Degrees one in Criminal & Social Justice, Gwen was uniquely positioned to express the needs and barriers to care experienced by these at-risk communities.
We are so proud to belong to a community of organizations and individuals who are committed to helping the most at-risk segments of our community, with love and gratitude to our Gwen for being a voice in the darkness. Thank you for all you do!