I am an advocacy intern for Aurora, working on my MSW (Masters in Social Work) at IUPUI in Indianapolis. I grew up in Jasper, just an hour north of Evansville. Throughout high school, my knowledge of Evansville consisted of a few trips to the mall and visiting family members in the area. After living in Bloomington and then Indianapolis for several years, I started getting involved with working with the homeless population in various capacities. In those cities, it seemed obvious that there were people in need; it was visible. When I moved to Evansville this past year, I had no idea initially that there were about 445 individuals who are homeless on any given night. When I tell this number to others, they often seem shocked and don’t believe me.


City of Evansville Downtown Riverfront

As an intern, I have had the opportunity to shadow everyone who works at Aurora, in order to see how each contributes to the overall mission. I have seen so many people who are truly passionate about the work they do. For the staff, it isn’t about a paycheck or just getting through the day. Everyone seems to genuinely care about making a difference in the lives of individuals, families, and the community as a whole.


Case manager Aaron and former intern Megan handing out supplies to a man living on the street, a service that is done every week.

 I’ll never forget the first time I walked into the House of Bread and Peace. It was one of my first weeks interning with Aurora, and I was shadowing Jill, one of our case managers. As soon as we walked through the front door, all of the residents turned and smiled at us. They were all going about their day at home, but still took the time to say hello and greet us. Watching Jill go through paperwork with a client made me remember why I first wanted to get into social work—to show people that I truly care about them and about helping them navigate through transitions in their lives. I was given a tour of the entire facility that day, and my perception of transitional housing was forever changed. These women and children were all working and living together as a family, as a community. The ways in which they interacted gave me hope that they would all be able to get back on their feet and find permanent stable housing for themselves.


House of Bread and Peace, one of the shelters where Aurora provides case management services

I’m proud to be an intern at Aurora, because the staff members here don’t just sit at their desks and shuffle through clients. They get out on the streets, in shelters, in transitional houses… They connect and engage with people who are going through difficult times… They provide light and hope for change. Through advocacy and engagement work, I hope to be able to spread this passion, this concern for and love of the community to even just a few more people. I believe that if our community is able to band together, we can truly end and prevent homelessness in Evansville.


Maria’s bio:

At a young age, my parents instilled in me the importance of volunteering. While an undergraduate student at IU Bloomington, I volunteered with INPIRG’s Hunger and Homelessness campaign. I also led a presentation on Global Poverty to New York high school students through the Center for Global Change. I am interested in public policy, research, and advocacy. My primary research interests include the following: Nutrition (primarily Farm-to-School programs); Nature-Deficit Disorder; sustainability; homelessness; and emergency preparedness/response.

I moved down to Evansville from Indianapolis last August. While I’ve always been interested in living in a large city like DC, I also like the idea of a more secluded area to have a small farm/homestead. I would like to recreate the family farm my dad grew up on, on a smaller scale, and become nearly self-sufficient.

Starting last year, I have been on the Social Research & Policy Committee for the National Rural Social Work Conference. At Aurora, I create and disperse News Brief updates to those interested in homeless and policy. I also have a 9-month-old puppy, Nico, who I’m pretty sure is the cutest and sweetest dog ever.