Evelyn Huntington ’18 helps homeless children

by Tim O'Keefe

Hometown: Rapid City, South Dakota
Currently Residing in: Boise, Idaho
Education: Sarah Lawrence College (New York)
Occupation: Took 2020-21 off to work with homeless children

You took a year off from college to work with homeless children in Boise. What drew you into that work?
So much of this past year was unexpected. With COVID I decided to take a year off and my college roommate had a connection in Boise with housing. I originally wanted to do social work and work with adults in case management but found myself working with homeless children. The organization I worked with runs three homeless shelters in Boise and the one I worked at was located at a hotel where families and medically fragile people could live while getting the help they needed. I’d worked with kids before in the summers at camps but this was totally different.

What was the most challenging part of your work?
One month after I started, the director of the homeless shelter preschool program left and I took over running the daycare program. I wasn’t a licensed teacher so I had to change the program to working with two to three kids at a time rather than all of the kids at once. These homeless kids had been raised in cars or hotel rooms so I worked with them on the basics: washing hands, sitting down to eat, sharing, playing together. I’m grateful that I got work in an environment where I could try new stuff and fail but not have serious consequences. There was a lot to figure out with how to help each individual kid. Then with COVID, that was incredibly stressful. We had to test and quarantine families and kids had to stay in their hotel room for days on end while we waited for test results.

How has your experience this past year influenced your plan for after college?
My plans have changed from wanting to work with adults to being focused on kids ages six months to five years old. Kids are the most vulnerable. I’d like to figure out how to combine social work with education. Play therapy is something I’m interested in pursuing.

What CRMS experiences or people still influence you today?
Dan Pittz, my advisor, was so influential for me. I often think about things that he told me about life while I was at CRMS. I learned a lot from faculty about how to be friendly with someone while maintaining appropriate boundaries. Dorm life was huge with that. I took things I learned from being in the dorm and applied them in my work at the homeless shelter.

What advice would you give current CRMS students?
Be kind as much as you can. Even when it’s hardest to be kind – be kind in those moments. That’s what I would tell the kids I worked with.

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