Dillon Harvey

Following graduation from Brandeis University with an independent interdisciplinary major in Critical Race and Sexuality Studies alongside a minor in Legal Studies, Dil relocated to the Greater Boston Area so that he may foster inclusion and increase access for underprivileged communities, particularly folks experiencing housing and financial insecurity. Fortunately he has found two outlets for this mission through his work as a Senior Program Manager at the Cambridge Housing Authority and an Associate with World Financial Group. These two opportunities provide continuing education and fulfillment through direct service, empowerment, and program design for communities living on the margins of society. Through the recognition and embrace of his racial and queer identities, Dil has learned the importance of self-love and acceptance as well as how such crucial sentiments are nearly impossible to achieve if one is homeless and/or surviving under poverty. Thus, he is excited and humbled to continue paying it forward by sharing resources and opportunities in the fields of housing and financial wellness for those who also come from adversity so that they may achieve self-actualization with affirmation, dignity, and stability.

 

Details

Location: Waltham, MA, United States

    Issues Areas:
  • Environmental Justice
  • Racial Justice

Campus: Brandeis University - Waltham, MA

Fellowship Class Year: 2011

Featured Fellow Spotlight

1.What experiences/opportunities led you to apply for the YP4 Fellowship program?

Prior to YP4, I was a first-year on campus involved in the Student Union and Young Democrats Club. These were two of the few organizations that gave leadership and training opportunities to first-years, as well as outlets for shared service and engagement goals. Throughout my middle and high school careers, I was “that kid” involved in extracurriculars who sought the balance of doing something good for others, avoiding bullying, and trying to make real friends. Thus, it was only natural that I’d hop on the YP4 opportunity once it came my way.

 

2. What social justice work are you currently doing in your communities, or on your college campuses?

Fortunately, and heavily influenced by YP4’s presence in my life, I have been able to bop around different approaches to social change. Full-time wise, I now work for a local housing authority with a focus on Communications and collaboration. It is an insular position within a direct service and governance based agency, and I hope to leverage my organizing experience to get our staff more on the same page, with dignity and inclusion, so that we can serve our community more efficiently and passionately. Part-time, I am building a business in financial wellness education and empowerment so that those traditionally excluded and under-served by the financial services industry can receive access to intergenerational wealth protection and growth. Too often we are denied the chance to have deep and strategic conversations about money on the left, and after working in spaces that are anti-poverty in nature, I have come to the conclusion that we cannot allow money to be the unspoken elephant in the room. If our goal is to allow our communities to live long and fulfilling lives, we need to make sure that said lives can be experienced with dignity and access to quality care, which in turn necessitates a certain level of wealth for as long as we exist under this iteration of capitalism.

 

3. What are you passionate about/what motivates you to do public service?

The concept of having a happy, safe, and empowering “home” drives my work. Although I was never without shelter, experiences during childhood led me to feel that I did not have a home; a location of love without fear and undue pain; a place to feel relaxed and at ease; a place to recharge oneself and build something greater with those closest to you, literally and figuratively. My mission is to help as many people, especially youth, access tangible and intangible resources that are crucial to building and sustaining that home environment the majority of us yearn and fight for.

 

4. What is the main goal you want to accomplish in your social justice work?

To foster symbiotic and strategic relationships alongside generating enough capital to open a runaway and homeless youth “super center” (actual name TBD). At this location, youth would have daytime drop-in services available for all different health and economic needs, as well as a safe, social environment to find affirmation, validation, and joy. Additionally, I would like some emergency shelter and transitional living beds to help keep those who do not want to be on the streets off of them. Through partnerships within the community, I would like to create pipelines to independent living for the youth capable of that with some guidance and preparation. For those who need more support, I’d like to connect them to Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) beds. This would grant them an affordable rent with services that allows them to live with dignity and wellness. I am not sure how feasible or realistic this idea is yet given the constant political and funding turmoil for homelessness, housing, and anti-poverty work, but I’m committed to jumping down the rabbit hole to see how far we can go.

 

5. Can you give an example of how your YP4 Fellowship helped you accomplish something meaningful for your community? 

Without YP4, I never would have taken on the task of reviving and leading the Queer People of Color Coalition on my campus. Courtesy of the fellowship, I was able to plan meetings with intention and confidence, as well as elevate the importance of intersectionality throughout the campus’s organizing and inclusion efforts. Membership was small, but the queer students of color I did get to meet and organize with loved having a space to feel affirmed and validated. Additionally, we pushed our parent queer alliance to be more intentionally diverse when it came to event and workshop planning and guest speaker selection. I have would have wanted all of this change and action to occur no matter what I think, but YP4 gave the tools and amplified my voice to make me get involved rather than wait and wish on the sidelines.

 

6.What piece of advice would you give to a current YP4 Fellows?

Stick with YP4 and its network because the relationships you make could arguably be the most invaluable and fulfilling part of this experience. My fellowship experience was personally not the ideal one you’d find on a postcard or small advertisement, but everything I went through with YP4 has made us both stronger and more intentional. As humans and human-led entities, we are all fallible and thus miscommunications and disconnects happen. However, I have always found YP4 to be the healthy family I can have a situation with, talk it out from both perspectives, and reach a point of mutual understanding and love at the end of the day. To this day I credit YP4 as my social justice foundation and constantly come back out of a personal duty to pay it forward. Even if you don’t make a best friend through this fellowship per se, you will make lifelong close friends and family who will support you throughout your personal and professional ups, downs, pivots, and turns.

 

7.Can you summarize in one sentence the impact YP4 has had in your life?  

Immeasurable benefits communally built upon a priceless, social justice foundation.

 

8.What do you want to be remembered for?

For being an affirming, authentic, considerate, funny, and loving person. I seek to be a force that makes everyone (barring those who cause intentional, undue harm and violence) feel valid and welcome in this world, that they deserve to be here and there’s a reason for their existence.