Overcoming Obstacles and Embracing Education: Pierre's Journey Towards Empowerment

A Conversation with Pierre, Advocate for Ending Homelessness and Pursuing Academic Excellence

Cambridge, Massachusetts (June 2023) - Pierre Delma (he/him/his), a dedicated advocate for social justice at Solutions at Work (SAW), sat down with us to share his inspiring journey from Haiti to the United States and his unwavering commitment to education and helping others.

Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Pierre moved to the US in pursuit of education [insert year]. After facing several challenges, including dropping out of college due to health issues and experiencing homelessness, he found refuge in SAW. His journey with SAW began five years ago when he joined as an office administrator and later became the administrator of the Boston project, based at Temple-Salem Adventist in Dorchester, Mattapan, and Roxbury.

Before joining SAW, Pierre worked as a community health advocate at a video center for 15 years. He attended Quincy Community College and briefly studied Human Services at Springfield College in 2002-2003. However, health issues forced him to put his studies on hold. Undeterred by setbacks, Pierre enrolled at Cambridge College to pursue a bachelor's degree in Human Services, driven by the belief that completing his education is a crucial step in his personal and professional growth.

Reflecting on his early years in the US, Pierre shared how he initially lived in an apartment with his brother and his family. Later, he got married and moved out, but due to his health issues, he found himself in a shelter in 1996. Pierre endured a challenging period, frequently hospitalized at Shattuck Hospital for six months. Eventually, with the assistance of the hospital, he secured an apartment.

During this challenging time, Pierre displayed remarkable resilience by persistently attending school, taking classes, and utilizing public libraries for studying. However he had to drop out again in 2003. He would eventually work at Dimock Center as a Health Advocate, and the nat Vinfen Corporation as a Case Manager. It took 20 years before Pierre's unwavering passion for education reignited, prompting him to return to school in 2023 this past June, recognizing the void left by his unfinished education.

Pierre expressed gratitude for the support he received from Solutions at Work. He acknowledged the invaluable guidance and encouragement provided by his supervisors, who have been instrumental in his personal and professional development. Their support, he believes, is a blessing from a higher power.

In 2018, Pierre discovered OperationAble, a program offering computer classes, which further empowered him to enhance his skills. Despite facing occasional obstacles and encountering individuals who try to hinder his progress, Pierre remains steadfast in his commitment to personal growth and professional advancement.

When asked about his experiences at SAW, Pierre emphasized the exceptional working environment, praising his supervisors, Dr. Alice Kidder, and Paris Swindle. He commended their professionalism, fairness, and open communication, highlighting the rarity of such a close and supportive relationship between supervisors and employees.

Pierre shared three essential pieces of advice for individuals experiencing homelessness. Firstly, he stressed the importance of complying with shelter procedures to maintain a good character in the eyes of others, enabling those at the shelter to better understand their circumstances and provide assistance. Secondly, Pierre advocated for counseling services, recognizing the psychological impact of homelessness and the need for professional guidance to navigate the emotional and spiritual aspects of the journey. Lastly, he encouraged individuals to pursue education, emphasizing that it is never too late to restart or continue their studies, even if it has been years since they last attended school.

While Pierre acknowledges the challenges he has faced, including instances where his dedication was unappreciated, he remains determined to advance through his degree and pursue upward mobility. He takes pride in his impeccable dressing style, as it boosts his confidence and self-assurance.

In closing, Pierre expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the directors of Solutions at Work, emphasizing his anticipation of continued collaboration and future achievements together. With an unwavering commitment to education and empowering others, Pierre stands as a shining example of resilience, determination, and the transformative power of education in breaking the cycle of homelessness and promoting equality.

Written by Brandon Lee (Volunteer) July 8, 2023 

For questions about this article please reach out to Paris Swindle at pswindle@solutionsatwork.org