Congratulations Gianna and Shannon!

Congratulations Gianna and Shannon!

BSW interns at DESK join staff and our volunteer corps in the operations of the weekly Olive Street Pantry program, the Evening Meals program, and the 266 State Street Drop-in & Resource Center. 

Interns undergo numerous iterative trainings, including: de-escalation and crisis management; harm reduction and naloxone administration; area resource and program referrals; child, elderly, and disability-based mandatory abuse reporting; CPR; Connecticut Foodshare civil rights training; as well as many others, depending upon availability and tasks completed. BSW Interns also use weekly supervision time to reflect upon client relations, ethical service provision, therapeutic engagement and intervention, relating theoretical frameworks to real-life situations, and other matters.

We have interns join us from many college programs in Greater New Haven including the Yale Divinity School, Yale School of Public Health, and Southern’s Social Work Program. Here at DESK, we are training the next generation of case managers, social workers, and nonprofit staff, by imparting DESK’s values of client-centered, trauma-informed approaches and a harm reduction philosophy.  We hope to ensure that these best practices are instilled in homelessness services and food assistance for a generation to come. 

Our interns are getting hands-on training on how to employ an empathetic approach with clients in a humanizing, dignifying and respectful manner. They are also getting concrete, task-oriented training in areas such as how to effectively work with a range of partnering agencies to work through a cumbersome network of social services and realize a higher success rate in client outcomes.

Shannon from the SCSU 2023 BSW program describes her experience: “From the minute I stepped into DESK, I knew that I found the right internship. I learned more than I could have ever hoped to learn and was left with the knowledge that many of the other students in my class didn’t get. I left knowing I had made an impact even in the smallest ways. DESK was and will always be an important part of my journey as a social worker, activist, and human rights advocate.”

Interns at DESK are more than students; they are literal lifesavers. As DESK’s Executive Director explained earlier this year, “back in early December, Shannon, and one of our Drop-in Center staff, Aisha, had just gotten off their shift and were heading toward the train station when they discovered a client of ours laid out on the sidewalk in the midst of an apparent opioid overdose. The two of them sprang into action. Just as they had been trained, they assessed the situation, called 911, and grabbed their Narcan kit. For those who don’t know, Narcan, or naloxone, is a powerful antidote that reverses an opioid overdose in process. So that night, long before emergency medical personnel arrived, Shannon administered Narcan in the form of a nasal spray and saved this individual’s life.”  We could not be prouder of our interns and the skills they deploy in such emergency situations.

Interested in interning at DESK? Please have your student advisor contact us at (203) 624-6426 or email, for more information.

Solving Homelessness in the US: A Discussion of Causes and Solutions

Solving Homelessness in the US: A Discussion of Causes and Solutions

I just listened to this podcast which laid out some very complex problems around homelessness in the US in ways that are clear and easy to follow.  Highly recommended for those who wish to understand the most effective ways to solve homelessness, addressing questions like:

  • What should be done about encampments?
  • Are mental health and substance use really “root causes” of widespread homelessness, or is this really a housing problem?
  • What do researchers means when they say “housing problem”?
  • Where are the most effective policies in solving homelessness, and where is the partisan divide?  (Spoiler: It’s not where you might think!)
  • Why does California have 30 percent of the unsheltered population in the US while only 12 percent of the total US population, and is this a preview of things-to-come in other states?

Shout out to Margaret Middleton for the recommendation!

From the show’s description: 

California has around half of the nation’s unsheltered homeless population. The state’s homelessness crisis has become a talking point for Republicans and a warning sign for Democrats in blue cities and states across the country.


Last month, the Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative at the University of California, San Francisco, released a landmark report about homelessness in the state, drawing from nearly 3,200 questionnaires and 365 in-depth interviews. It is the single deepest study on homelessness in America in decades. And the report is packed with findings that shed new light not only on California’s homelessness problem but also on housing affordability nationwide.


Jerusalem Demsas is a staff writer at The Atlantic who has written extensively about the interlocking problems of housing affordability and homelessness in America. So I asked her on the show to walk me through the core findings of the study, what we know about the causes of homelessness, and what solutions exist to address it. We discuss the surprising process by which people end up homeless in the first place, the “scarring” effect that homelessness can have on their future prospects, the importance of thinking of homelessness as a “flow,” not a “stock,” the benefits and limitations of “housing first” approaches to end homelessness, why Republican proposals for being tougher on the homeless can make the problem worse, why neither generous social safety nets nor private equity firms are to blame for homelessness, and more.

Finding Love through Volunteering!

Finding Love through Volunteering!

Andy and Jacinta are engaged to be married!

Over five years ago, this incredible couple met and instantly bonded over their shared values and commitment to serving those in need in their community. Naturally, that led them to DESK.

Their volunteer journey started in Bridgeport, where they drove a food truck and distributed free meals. That program was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but they sprang into action during those unprecedented times and delivered groceries each week to those in need in the greater New Haven area. When that program cut back services, they found the Drop-In Resource Center at DESK and have been serving there once a week ever since.

Volunteering at DESK on Sundays is like [our] weekly church service. It’s often the highlight of our week. We love the familiar faces and appreciate the opportunity to check in on those we have grown to care for during our time at DESK,” said Jacinta. Their shared commitment to the community allows them to develop and maintain relationships with DESK clients like none other.

A few days before Valentine’s Day, Andy called our office asking to purchase matching aprons for him and Jacinta. When he arrived, he explained his grand plan and swore us to secrecy. Imagine our staff’s excitement to learn that DESK was incorporated into Andy’s proposal on Valentine’s Day! As Jacinta recounts, “Andy started Valentine’s Day with traditional gifts [such as] flowers, chocolates, and a card. Then to my surprise, he gifted me with a DESK apron, symbolizing our time volunteering together. This led to the ultimate gift, the engagement ring!”

Thank you Andy and Jacinta, for including us in your special moment and thank you for volunteering at DESK for almost two years!

At DESK, volunteers are both members of our broader community and part of our network of supporters and donors, and without their help, we would not be able to continue the great we do for those in need in our community.

If you or your group are interested in volunteering with us, you can reach out to our volunteer coordinator, Ryan, at or call (475) 238-6170.