February 2, 2022
(HOUSTON, TX) - Chaunteion Hall (MSW '21) has been named Program Director of Montrose Grace Place.
The non-profit organization's mission is to "provide a safe, welcoming environment for the vulnerable homeless youth of all sexualities and genders, providing nourishment, healthy relationships, and hope for the future."
We spoke with Chaunteion about how the GCSW prepared her for this role and why spaces her organization provides are critical to achieving social justice for LGBTQ+ youth.
Name: Chaunteion Hall
Graduation from the GCSW: MSW 2021
Congrats on your new position! What are you most excited about when it comes to your new role as Program Director of Montrose Grace Place?
I love waking up every day and having the opportunity to learn more about navigating the Housing/Homeless Services in Houston, as well as participating in a grassroots non-profit organization that is passionate and dedicated to affirming and protecting the lives of homeless LGBTQ+ youth. The experience is gratifying, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.
Montrose Grace Place aims to provide a haven for the homeless youth of any sexual identity and gender identity. Why is it important for these spaces to exist, and what about this population do you think is most misunderstood by the general public?
I often talk to the youth at Montrose Grace Place, and they tell me how their family or friends made it difficult for them to live their truth. They have tried to maintain those relationships while also growing with their sexual or gender identity, which pushes them to us. They look for the people who will allow them to grow and support it. We offer resources that a parent or friend would never consider, such as binders or financial aid for transition medication. That's huge! I think something straightforward yet misunderstood in a significant way is that youth in the community don't want to destroy their relationships or change cultural values. They don't want to cause chaos or disrupt life. They want the same love, acceptance, and respect as everyone else. When they are denied those things then abused (or neglected or some other horrible but very real mistreatment), they then have very human reactions, which is to get love, acceptance, and respect by any means. Thankfully, there's Montrose Grace Place, a place where these individuals get all three and then some.
You're a native of New Orleans. Why did you decide to continue your education at the GCSW?
Life gave me no other option, honestly. I graduated from Dillard University and planned to become a licensed social worker. Still, after thinking about my favorite discussions in undergrad, I realized political social work was more of my style. There weren't any programs back home that offered even a little bit of a policy-focused social work program. Most of them were clinical programs, and I think clinical/political students understand that sitting in a classroom talking about the complete opposite focus area of what you want to do is so challenging and nerve-wracking. After days of research, the UH GCSW political track just made so much sense, and I'm happy I never second-guessed.
What skills did you acquire during your time at the GCSW that you believe will benefit you the most for this new role?
Where do I start?! I am very grateful for the connections I have made with my cohort. The websites and tools used for assignments and projects are still helpful. We spent so much time discussing significant issues with one another, which prepared me for the constant dialogue you expect to participate in in the field. You never stop talking to people about the MSW program offered at the GCSW, and the GCSW is in a constant open state of discussing how to improve services to students, alums, faculty, and the community. I honestly can't minimize the value of the preparation the GCSW has given to me.
The vision of the GCSW is to achieve social justice local to global. Why are local, grassroots organizations like yours critical to achieving this vision?
I believe that grassroots organizations like Montrose Grace Place are the starting point of achieving social justice. When we can meet the need and communicate with other organizations that fill in the gaps, we can work together and be an actual community safety net for people. That will allow people to have their basic needs met and have the strength to pursue justice on a broader scale. No one can fight world hunger if they are hungry themselves.
Who is someone that inspires you, and why?
My mom! I've watched this woman live passion, support, understanding, and resilience in human form. She inspires me with her selflessness, pushing me to go beyond my self-doubt. There is no way I could have become anything else after being born as her daughter.
Anything else you would like us to know?
I'm grateful for the GCSW. If I didn't enroll, I can't imagine where I would be, and I don't even want to think about it. I automatically saw the effort the GCSW places behind building up their students, and if someone is committed to this field, the GCSW won't let you down.
Also, please donate or volunteer with us at Montrose Grace Place. Visit montrosegraceplace.org to see how you'd like to fit in. We always need people, and there is always a seat at the table.