TELLING THE STORIES OF THOSE THAT NEED A VOICE
Chelsea Bowers ‘11 has made a name for herself through her community work for CityNet, which works to end street-level homelessness. It was not a direct path to her role in public affairs, telling the stories of the homeless men and women that CityNet serves. Her journey with serving the community began during her Junior year at Orange Lutheran when she went on her first mission trip to China with the Missions Program in 2009.
“Being involved with the Missions program was the first time I truly felt comfortable in my own skin,”
Her experience of serving communities both on a local and international level enabled her to see how a variety of communities still thrive despite very challenging living conditions. It was clear that her involvement in the Missions program left a lasting imprint on her heart, but it wasn’t until after college that she would return back to that space.
After traveling the world as an undergrad exploring exactly what career she wanted to pursue, social services crept back into her life as a graduate student intern at Thomas House Family Shelter in Garden Grove. She realized that working with the community brought her joy. She pivoted her studies in Communications, ultimately receiving a Masters of Social Work from USC. It was during this time that she was introduced to CityNet.
CityNet fosters a creative space that looks at tough problems surrounding homelessness and localizes them in order to find solutions. Every homeless situation is different, so each solution is unique. “It’s really the boots on the ground doing the good work. I’m just telling their stories” says Bowers. As the Director of Public Affairs for the organization, Chelsea works to connect the community at large with the work that the organization is doing surrounding homelessness in order to meet the needs of the people that they serve and work with.
“One doesn’t become homeless overnight, so it can’t be resolved overnight,” she says, “it’s solved through nurturing relationships.” This approach, Chelsea went on to say, was what she learned her during her Mission trips at OLu. “We were taught that we don’t go on a trip to solve a person’s problem, we go to build relationships and ask what’s needed, and support those needs.”
Chelsea is still very connected to her Lancer roots, joining the 2019 Mission trip to Houston, TX as an alumnus, to help support relief efforts surrounding Hurricane Harvey. She planned to join the Romania Mission trip this year, which was unfortunately canceled due to COVID-19.
In her free time, Chelsea finds every opportunity to travel and spend time with her family and friends.
In response to COVID-19, Chelsea’s organization CityNet is working to mobilize the community resources in order to help meet the needs of the homeless community who do not have a place to go for safety and are living on the streets.
For more information visit: https://www.citynet.org/covid19-response