Growing up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Sam Greenberg found inspiration from his mother, who is a primary care doctor and works closely with many homeless and low-income patients. While a sophomore in high school, Sam began volunteering at the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter, a student run homeless shelter on Harvard’s campus. What began as an extra-curricular commitment quickly became central to Sam’s high school experience. He took on leadership in the high school program that sent volunteers to the shelter while, at the same time, he began to grapple with questions of inequality and homelessness in a more personal way, as one of his closest friends was experiencing homelessness during that time.
Sam was accepted into Harvard University, and entered with academic interests in 20th century history and literature. At the same time, he continued his work in social justice and public service. He joined the First Year Urban Program and the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter’s student staff, quickly becoming part of the leadership team of the shelter.
Last year Sam joined the Mission Mentor program, a big-sibling mentoring program that works with at risk middle school and high school youth in the Mission Hill neighborhood of Boston. He was elected Vice President of the Phillips Brooks House Association, a student-led non-profit organization that oversees the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter and the Mission Mentor Program. Serving in that role for a year, Sam helped manage 83 student run programs and a $2.8 million budget, and, in his own words, grew to fully appreciate the beauty and importance of student-driven optimism and hope.
In his last two years at Harvard, Sam has been working with fellow students to start a new shelter dedicated to young homeless adults ages 18-24. Working with community partners, local advocates, and experts in the field, the team hopes to open a shelter as early as next spring that will not only provide services for its clients, but will also provide opportunities to develop leadership and advocacy roles for all involved. It will be designed with the idea that students from other college campuses across the country could adapt it as a model for shelters in their areas.
Sam will graduate from Harvard in the spring of 2014.