It Can Happen to Anyone

Germantown Academy senior Serena Bagga grew up in a family that emphasized service to others.

“From a young age, I had been constantly exposed to the issue of homelessness,” she says. Serena and her family helped with fundraisers to provide assistance to low-income families; volunteered at food pantries; and distributed food, blankets, and care packages to people experiencing homelessness. At 16, she started volunteering with us at Family Promise Montco as part of her Academy Scholars program at GA. She interviewed our Hope Gardens residents—and she dug deep into the issues around homelessness.

“My research has helped overturn my misconceptions about poverty, and lose stereotypes that often limit growth and advancement for people who find themselves [homeless],” she says. One Hope Gardens resident shared the obstacles she faced while trying to find a landlord who would accept a housing voucher—and the bias among many that anyone who had experienced homelessness must be lazy and unable to manage money.

“Witnessing firsthand how she cared for her children, how hard she worked at a low-paying job, and the time she put into caring for her family, I knew that was not the case,” Serena says.

Serena wrote a book summarizing her findings from her years-long project, titled “It Can Happen to Anyone.” And although her project is concluding, her involvement with issues around poverty and homelessness is not. In the future, she plans to advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves.

“Learning their stories humanized these individuals for me,” she said. “Just because their situation is bad, doesn’t mean they are.”