National Hunger & Homeless Week: On suffering with support – and without it

During National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week, CCH offers these essays by interns, staff and volunteers, writing about what inspires their work.

By Lucy Schoyer, Speakers Bureau intern

My interest in social justice started with my mother and sister. My mother used to do a lot of work in non-violence and taught me about great leaders like Jane Addams and Dorothy Day, an activist and leader in the Catholic Workers movement. My sister was very involved in activism and was the head of a community garden while I was growing up. I have always admired my sister’s passion and my mother’s belief in the possibility of a just society. 

Lucy Schoyer
Lucy Schoyer

In high school I was diagnosed with leukemia and my mother began a personal campaign to pray to Dorothy Day for my health, hoping to make her saint. My mother’s faith and the support I got from family and friends really inspired me to think about others who were suffering. I was sick, but I knew I had support and would get better. I really began thinking of others who suffered without support or hope.

When I began studying social work in Chicago I was exposed to a lot of people who were suffering without any support systems. As an undergrad, I got to work with a lot of homeless individuals seeking jobs and housing and other ways to get out of poverty. I was shocked to see there were so many structural barriers stopping these individuals from receiving basic necessities. I began to realize that these people needed support, not just from family and friends, but also from their communities, their schools, and their government.

When I heard about the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless I was really excited to learn about ways to end homelessness on a macro scale, instead of just putting a “band-aid” on the issue. I am now an organizing intern at CCH and am able to help in the fight to end homelessness in Chicago.

Lucy Schoyer grew up in Pittsburgh. She moved to Chicago to study creative writing and social work at Loyola University Chicago,  graduating last spring. She is earning a master’s degree in social work at UIC’s Jane Addams School of Social Work.