Rising Leaders Committee member shares impact of mission

Ramya Sivakumar
Ramya Sivakumar

As a transportation engineer, the focus of my career centers on improving mobility—how to reduce congestion on highways, providing wide enough sidewalks for pedestrian access, and designing adequate drainage systems to make roads safer when it’s raining.  

However, when my journey with the Rising Leaders Committee (RLC) began in 2021 at a virtual volunteer event featuring Project HOME, I started to reframe my idea of what “mobility” really means.  

At that event, we built hygiene kits to distribute around the city to individuals who are experiencing chronic street homelessness. I was inspired by this activity for two reasons. First, it highlighted that anyone could support outreach efforts through their time, compassion, and everyday items that easy to source. Second, it showcased that a small investment of my time and thoughtful actions can make basic necessities portable and available wherever and whenever someone experiencing street homelessness may need to use them. 

To me, this was more than a volunteer event. It became a small and repeatable action that I could take to improve mobility in our city.  

I have also learned during my time with the RLC that the path HOME is one that is created in supportive partnership with people who are experiencing homelessness. I had often heard the phrase “meeting people where they’re at,” it is only through my service to the Project HOME community that I came to know how it is actually practiced. A perfect illustration of this is the work of Project HOME’s Outreach Coordination Center (OCC). The OCC, in partnership with the City of Philadelphia, provides direct outreach to individuals living on the streets of Philadelphia. Project HOME outreach teams work to establish trust and build relationships with a singular focus in mind: providing supportive resources that, whenever someone is ready, will lead to permanent supportive housing, opportunities for employment, access to medical care, and education.  

Today, two years after the initial virtual event, I am grateful to serve as a co-chair, along with Sebastien Lundby-Thomas, of the Rising Leaders Engagement Committee. I am inspired to be a part of a group of young adults who are enthusiastic about creating a culture in which giving–be it time, money, or energy–is the norm, and we are all focused on resharing a world in which everyone has the stability they need to be as mobile as they want!  

If you know anyone who might be interested to join the RLC, please email here.

Rising Leaders Interest Form

Together, we can work to end and prevent chronic street homelessness in Philadelphia.  

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Project HOME Rising Leader Sebastien Lundby-Thomas
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