University of Southern Maine MSW student and Preble Street Veterans Housing Services Supervisor Erin Kelly has been selected as the second ever David A. Zysk Memorial Scholarship recipient.
Preble Street created the scholarship to honor the life and contributions of Clinical Intervention Program Case Manager David Zysk, who passed away in 2015. Each year $1,000 is awarded to one staff member or intern enrolled in a degree program who lives out David’s ideal of “meeting people where they’re at.”
The following excerpt from Erin’s scholarship application illustrates how she embodies David’s legacy:
The ways in which Preble Street has shaped my world view can be summed up with one of my favorite quotes from Harry Potter: “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” There are many people at Preble Street who are suffering, and life for them is difficult and often traumatic. Clients face mental illness, physical disability, substance use disorders, and poverty. My work at Preble Street has highlighted structural inequalities and the multitude of injustices that exist in the context of American society. But through all of this, my clients have inspired me and awed me with their resilience. There are clear moments of joy—moments when people walk into their new apartment for the first time, or when they find that they are getting a life-changing increase in income. But I have also found that it is important to look for the joy in the smaller, more difficult moments as well. These moments can be the first time a client shows up sober to a showing, or the moment when you realize that you have finally forged a trusting relationship with someone after a year of trying, or just being able to sit next to a client in the courtyard because they are simply too weary to walk any farther.
Congratulations, Erin, and thank you for your service to the Preble Street mission!