How 30 Seconds a Day Could Change your Worldview

  • Pathways to Housing Transitional Employee discusses his way out of homelessness
    Mendez, a transitional employee at the Philadelphia Furniture Bank talks about his journey

Do you remember the last time you changed your mind about something? David Van Der Goes does. His lightbulb moment didn’t come from the morning edition of his local newspaper, or a hefty debate with friends over dinner. His education came from a woman seated on the sidewalk one morning as he walked to work.

“I grew up in a family that believed people ended up on the streets because they were lazy or entitled,” David tells me. “Then I moved here, and I started talking to people I saw on the streets.” There was one woman he passed almost every day on his commute. “I just took thirty seconds or a minute each morning to hear about her struggle for the day.”

David’s teacher originally came to Philadelphia to escape domestic abuse. He learned that she worked with a program called Pathways to Housing PA, and he reached out to us. David works at Jefferson Hospital improving the experience of care providers, patients and visitors through app creation, website management, and other media. He put these skills to work creating several videos to promote the Philadelphia Furniture Bank’s Chair Affair next month.

It didn’t take long for David to discover that the stories he heard on the streets were anything but simple. “I realized that the problem of income inequality does exist,” he explains. “I was struck by the complexity of individual issues that led to homelessness, and I started to become more aware. Now I see it every day, multiple times a day.”

David is a busy man, but he looks for small ways that he can connect with people on the streets. Projects like creating the videos for Pathways signature program, the Philadelphia Furniture Bank, allow him to use his skills to make a difference. Most mornings, he still stops to spend 30 seconds of his time with someone who is living outside. There’s a lot to learn about life on the streets in our busy city. Luckily, David has found some of the best teachers around.

Now is a great time to get involved in ending homelessness! Volunteer opportunites are available at the Philadelphia Furniture Bank  

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About the Author

Becca DeWhitt is an MBA candidate at Temple University. She is passionate about creating a world where everyone's experience and perspective is valued, and sees story-telling as a powerful tool to that end.