- Connor Schoen: You Have to be Committed to the Struggle. Fighting Against Young Adult Homelessness in America. Patrick Huey 43:10
Persistence in the Face of Struggle
You know we are living in cynical times when close to half our politicians and arbiters of the social and political debate tout conspiracy theories and polarizing dialogue for what can only be seen as financial gain, fame, and power. As we have democratized our information platforms, we have opened the door to the rampant irresponsibility and untruths that permeate the ether of our current social context. We know this to be true as good reporting, thorough investigations and extensive court trials reveal the extent to which some in the media and in the government have, for example, deliberately spread mistruths about the 2020 election being stolen or the mass shooting at Sandy Hook not being a real event. They engage in this dangerous posturing for ratings and quite frankly survival, but we are all paying a price for their profound negligence.
Juxtapose the Machiavellian maneuverings of those above to what I can only describe as the heroic efforts of Connor Schoen, who has founded an organization with his colleague Tony Hsu called Breaktime. At Breaktime, Connor and Tony, and the team of stalwarts they lead, battle with what can only be called an epidemic of homelessness in the youth population in Boston, MA. While the statistics and numbers of homeless youth are startling in Boston, those impacted most by youth homelessness are not unfamiliar to us. They are LGBTQ+ youth. And if you are a black, gay male your chances increase significantly of experiencing homelessness. They are the mentally ill. They are BIPOC and their families. They are youth emancipated from the Foster Care System. Those folks who often exists on the margins.
When I speak with Connor about this epidemic impacting so many lives, he has had a passion for this type of work his whole life. That passion only increased when, during his process of coming out as a pansexual person while he was a student at Harvard University, he was working with a shelter that serviced homeless youth, most of whom were kicked out of their homes because they were LGBTQ+. Connor saw the irony of his own situation, that there but for the grace of having parents, brothers and a support system sustaining him through his process of embracing his identity, that homeless youth could have been him. It was a turning point that brought into focus for Connor what he should be doing with his life. And he boldly walked in the direction of that calling and co-founded Breaktime.
And while Generation Z takes a bad rap for being entitled and consumed with Snapchat, Connor and his team of GenZers are fighting for legislative and social solutions to a real problem that if you walk down any street in most cities you cannot help but see – our homeless populations are increasing as are the numbers of young people experiencing homelessness at some point in their lives. And once they get into the cycle of homelessness, it is increasingly difficulty to break that cycle. So, while our leaders wrangle over who they can kick off which committees in Washington DC and subpoena power, the PEOPLE (we who are on the ground here in real life) need real support, and real solutions to real problems.
It's people like Connor who are teaching us what inspirational and transformative leadership is. What the good fight looks like, even in the quicksand-like maze of legislative agendas. As he says, “Persistence in the face of struggle to create change is so important. It’s so important to remain committed to something that you know is right even if it feels like nothing is Moving.”
For more information contact Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org