• Project Homeless Connect: COVID-19 changed its plans, but not its commitment
After considering which topics I would want to cover for the enterprise story, my interests focused on Project Homeless Connect. Project Homeless Connect is a nonprofit organization that holds annual service events for those experiencing homelessness in Salt Lake County. After my family got involved and started volunteering in 2019, I found a deeper interest in PHC. The foundation of this story idea was shaped through those initial experiences.
Through developing the story, many of the sources I interviewed were contacts I had made through my volunteering experience. Those whom I didn’t have contact information for, I was able to find through the website, or by asking through the contacts I already had. The sources I used were Mike Akerlow, executive director for PHC in Salt Lake City, and Nicole Handy and Natalie Clawson who are the logistics coordinators for PHC. These were the best sources for this story, as Akerlow highlighted the origins and experiences of PHC while Handy and Clawson were able to give specific details of what their events would look like this year compared to previous years.
Each source had something different to offer. Akerlow described how PHC came to Salt Lake City and how each year has improved and changed. He has the unique perspective of bringing the nationwide event to Salt Lake City, creating a steering committee, and shaping the events each year. Handy and Clawson both started their experience with PHC as volunteers, which also gives them the unique perspective of seeing the event from every angle.
Though there were a lot of different ways I could have written this story, I landed on how COVID-19 has impacted PHC and the course of its service events in 2020. This felt like the most important topic to highlight because of how different the organization’s events would be. While I would have preferred to interview my sources in person, the pandemic prevented this from being possible. My interviews were conducted by phone per the interviewees’ requests, which paved the way for connection issues and the inability to tell facial expressions or mannerisms. Had the pandemic not been an issue this year, I think the story could have gained more small creative details.
After conducting interviews and research, the focus of the story became clear: showing the origins of Project Homeless Connect and how it will function during a year of nothing but uncertainty. I found this focus primarily through quotes from my sources. Each person I interviewed gave compelling quotes that shaped how I went about crafting this story. I learned that my writing process truly begins after all the dust has settled; after conducting interviews and research, and organizing my notes, the story came to life simply by writing everything down. I went through three different drafts of this story, and the final draft came together after sorting through my quotes and important information to create the story I wanted to tell.
I am a full-time student at the University of Utah pursuing a degree in Communication, with an emphasis in Strategic Communication and a Applied Positive Psychology certificate. After graduation in the spring of 2022, I plan to further my academic career by earning a master’s degree. I am passionate about reading, writing, and learning about media studies. I am an aspiring communications director with a special emphasis on public relations and marketing. Some of my hobbies include journaling, exercising, cooking/baking, and spending time with my family.