My ‘big picture’ answer

For Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week, we asked the people we work with to explain what motivates them.

Today’s essay is by Casey Wittekind, a policy intern at CCH in 2010 and one of the young professionals who serves on the CCH Associate Board. Casey earned a master’s degree in social justice from Loyola University.  

When people ask what I want to do with my life in a “big-picture” sense, the answer comes easily. I dream of working alongside individuals and organizations to advocate for effective change to the structures and systems that are not working for anyone: clients, organizations, taxpayers, or funders.

Why? I have a deep belief that all humanity is interconnected. Humanity is in relationship with one another. Our shared humanity must both inspire us to recognize injustice and motivate us to care for our neighbor, leading to the fight for justice. My shared humanity is what leads me to pursue justice.

At CCH I had the privilege to work primarily on the Sweet Home Chicago campaign. I was immersed in a conversation and a movement that not only was aiming to provide more funding for affordable housing, but also working to change the policy of how a city funded this basic human right. Questions from aldermen and city officials often centered around concerns regarding implementation and financial matters.

Now I work in the development department of a supportive housing nonprofit here in Chicago. I see and participate in the process to obtain new and continued funding from local, state and federal governments.  Now I am on the other side, seeing how policy is implemented and how it affects local organizations. I am beginning to understand why well-crafted and thought out policy is vital to creating positive change. Without a well supported and funded program, local organizations cannot begin to create and facilitate the programs necessary to assist people on their path to self sufficiency.