Tag Archives: minnesota coalition for the homeless

Longtime advocate for the homeless community Monica Nilsson to speak at memorial

The 25th annual Homeless Memorial March and Service is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 17. Visit www.simpsonhousing.org/memorial for all the details.

Monica Nilsson, lontime advocate for the homeless community will be speaking at the service. A little background on Monica:

Monica Nilsson walked into Simpson Shelter late one night in 1994 for her first shift as an overnight volunteer and couldn’t believe that there were rows and rows of sleeping human beings on foam mats at her feet. She spent many more nights at Simpson and later opened Simpson’s Women’s Shelter in 1999 before leaving in 2004 to go to The Bridge, a sanctuary for runaway and homeless youth.

In 2007, she joined Hearth Connection, working with providers serving long-term homeless families, singles and youth in Duluth, the Iron Range and on reservations. Currently, Monica serves as Director of Street Outreach for St. Stephen’s Human Services, working primarily with people who are sleeping outside. She is also Board President of the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless, a coalition of 150 organizations serving those who experience homelessness.

Monica has learned that every person you meet knows something you don’t, that you need to schedule thinking and that if we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back. She learned all that from youth and single adults and families experiencing homelessness.

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Voice Lessons: advocating for people experiencing homelessness

Yesterday afternoon, Mike Davey from the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless spoke at Voice Lessons, a Simpson Housing Services event that brought people together to learn skills to speak to their legislators. The talk was specifically geared towards issue around funding for programs for people experiencing homelessness.

The current legislative session is looking to be a tough one, with cuts almost certain. The sad irony is that we are seeing an ever-increasing need for our services, just at the time when the slashing of programs is looming.

Generally speaking, people tend to shy away from speaking to their legislators, so a visit or phone call can hold a lot of weight. It has been said that every meeting or phone call a senator or representative receives is viewed as representing the sentiments of 100 constituents.

You don’t need to be an expert on the situation. You are a concerned citizen. If you have a passion for or personal experience with an issue, you are an expert.

A few other points brought up at the session:

Be as specific as possible about whatever you are calling about.

If you hear “You are speaking to the choir” from your elected official, remember that the choir can get rusty and need practice. Continue to express your thoughts.

The idea of focusing on what we need in the budget vs. what we have the money for is key.

Be sure to “get the ask.”

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