Lily Buchen is another Connections for the Homeless employee that lobbied in Springfield with Joining Forces in April. Lily is the Communications Coordinator for Connections’ Development Team, and she believes that communications in advocacy work is important. Advocating means to have a voice, and effective communication through that voice is a way to get people to care enough about a cause to take action. Communication can be educational and emotionally compelling, which can sway public opinion about issues and even influence legislation.
Lily grew up in Arlington Heights and now lives in Rogers Park, Chicago. She went to Loyola University, where she earned her BA in Digital Media with a minor in Sociology. During college, Lily began her career in communications and shelter services by interning at the nonprofit organization The Well of Mercy, a small shelter for single women and their families. In this role, she ran the Instagram and Facebook pages for the organization and supported fundraisers and conducted research for small grants.
Lily’s current role at Connections is her first job out of college. She creates graphics, runs Connections’ social media pages, films and takes pictures of events, works on the monthly "Making Connections" newsletter, markets events, and does many other tasks related to communications. In fact, she has been helping Joining Forces with communications for our new membership structure. So far, she has helped us design pamphlets that advertise our new committees, advised us on planning and tracking strategies, tested membership flow on Volunteer Hub and our Slack channel, and is helping us to get started with social media marketing.
When Lily learned that Joining Forces’ Lobby Day was open to Connections employees, she took the opportunity to participate because she’s been interested in what advocacy can do and was curious about how lobbying works. Before this trip, Lily had advocated by taking part in the planning for a school walkout for gun control in response to school shootings when she was in high school. She has also protested for Black Lives Matter in downtown Chicago during 2020 and stays informed about causes that interest her. However, lobbying for statewide housing issues was new to her and felt more “on-the-ground" since it involved talking to people who can make the changes we want to see.
Lily especially liked the opportunity to use our expertise as people who work in affordable housing to inform legislators and influence changes for the State. As she put it, “introducing people to our base knowledge of homelessness is basically community education” because most people aren’t aware of what causes homelessness, how big the need is for affordable housing and homelessness services, what people with housing insecurity need, how to prevent homelessness, etc. So, sharing our unique insights about our profession can potentially increase awareness and improve the state of housing.