Santa Clara University

Santa Clara Magazine

Patrick A. Kelly '08

As a community organizer, I work to preserve affordable, government-subsidized housing for families that make, on average, less than $15,000 a year. These tenants need help because they often get harassed and forgotten just because they are low-income families. Working in these very impoverished communities in Harlem and the Bronx has changed my outlook on the social system our society is built on, and has lit a fire inside to work for social change and equality for all people, no matter what background or income level.

One event that really stands out for me, when I first really felt that I made a change on my own, took place in November. I set up and organized a meeting between a whole bunch of elected officials and the tenants of the Gloria B. Harding building. I was working to get their support for the tenants who were facing problems with their landlord and deteriorating conditions. At this meeting there was a congressman, a couple senators, along with local council members, and they were taking my advice on how we need to help the tenants. It was a strange but empowering feeling knowing that I can make a difference in the community around me.

My life in JVC would have to be almost the opposite of what life was like back at Santa Clara. Now I loved every minute that I was at school at SCU, but something about this new way of living is amazing. It is tough, challenging, and often made me question myself, but I think it is these tough times that have made the entire experience great.