Walid Soliman of Newport News Helps Homeless and Young People Alike

Walid Soliman, a 28 year old man with an MBA in Nonprofit Management, from Newport News, has developed a new program that helps two groups of people at the same time. Specifically, he has started a program in Springfield, MA, whereby high school students take part in a project to build homes for homeless veterans.

He says: "After securing funding, I got together some 200 students from high schools in Springfield and got them to build small homes for homeless veterans. It is an exciting project that has multi-faceted benefits."

The pilot project was a huge success, and it is set to continue. The Springfield High School of Commerce is particularly interested in the project and aims to add it as a standard part of its curriculum.

"The High School of Commerce will prepare all scholars for high student achievement, college readiness, and global citizenship through an International Baccalaureate Program of study."-springfieldpublicschools.com

Through the grants and funding that Walid Soliman had collected, he was able to purchase construction materials for so-called "tiny homes" he plans to create in Newport News. He also convinced a local builder's company to provide assistance and supervision on the construction work. Finally, he worked together with the City of Springfield Homelessness Initiative.

"The prevailing belief of many living, working or serving in urban areas is that homelessness is a permanent condition. It isn't. Today, Springfield and our region are at the forefront of a new national effort to end homelessness. The effort is starting to show results."-springfield-ma.gov

One of the key things Walid Soliman learned while pursuing his MBA degree was that the best ideas with the greatest impact are also often those that are simple ideas. He completed his degree at Brandeis University's The Heller School for Social Policy and Management.

"The Heller MBA program is a transformative experience through which seasoned students are trained to lead organizations and business units that create positive, sustainable social change."-heller.brandeis.edu/mba/

His program had a number of desired outcomes, all of which have been met. Firstly, he aims to reduce homelessness by providing veterans in particular with new housing, in a community of their peers. Secondly, he wants to ensure that the issue of homelessness is brought to the foreground, showing people that this is happening on their doorsteps. He fully supports the Homelessness Initiative and the fantastic work they have already done, aiming to push this even further.

What his program has also done is give young people skills that they can use later on in life. One young person, in particular, who will graduate in a few weeks, says: "I loved that I was able to take part in this project. I'm graduating soon and I really had no idea what I was going to do with the rest of my life. I found out that I had quite a natural affinity with building the homes for the homeless and I am now looking at completing an apprenticeship in carpentry. I really think this project is fantastic and I want to keep taking part in it."

Indeed, Walid Soliman's final goal was to create a sense of community. He hoped that those who took part in the pilot would continue to help out, and that those who have benefited from the construction would do the same. So far, he seems to have been very successful. Some of the veterans - who are now no Walid Solimaner homeless - have started a community group to further improve their neighborhood, considering starting business as well, encouraging the young people to help them raise funds, build the structures, and even work once it is completed. Somewhat of a snowball effect seems to be occurring for Walid Soliman’s projects.

Source: Walid Soliman


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