When we got to the end of the interview, Bryan Seck said it felt a little strange being asked questions instead of asking them. He’s usually the one listening, so it was nice to be heard for a change, he said.
No, he’s not some kind of reporter or therapist.
Bryan Seck is the Lincoln Public Schools Homeless Outreach Specialist. A job where he meets with homeless families and connects them with the resources they need.
It’s a job which is anything but black and white. It’s busy and littered with messy situations, complicated agencies and a whole lot of chaos. But here’s the thing – Bryan isn’t a stressful person. He’s calm, relaxed, systematic and intentional.
Even though he’s only lived in Lincoln a little over two years, he has a better working knowledge of the community resources than most Lincoln natives.
Don’t mistake his cool head for apathy though, it’s actually the opposite. On any given day, Bryan is sitting down with a family to hear their story, picking up food and clothing, working out of his car or advocating for a child over the phone.
He knows how to change his tone when talking with a domestic violence victim to help them find stability, and is on a first-name basis with people at nearly every area agency to advocate for each family he meets. Bryan can be a quiet listener, or a fierce fighter to make the needs and voices of the homeless heard.
But in reality, he can only guarantee three things: kids are enrolled in school, have transportation to school and receive free and reduced lunch. Those are what he can provide for every homeless family in Lincoln.
Then, there’s the long list of people and circumstances that are 100 percent out of his control.
He can’t personally make sure people stay on the straight and narrow. He can’t physically turn in a job or housing application. He can’t emotionally manage the sad situations he sees each day.
But he can follow-up with people to check-in and give them a push. He can ask good questions, hear their stories and give them the names of people who can help. He can and has built strong partnerships with local shelters, food banks and faith-based organizations.
At the end of the day, Bryan has to let go. Not throw in the towel, but trust that he did everything in his power to help.
This has been hard for him to learn, and harder still to put into practice. Seeing and hearing so many stories can feel heavy. Which is why he plays soccer a few times a week, processes his day with his wife and rests in the fact that he doesn’t do his work alone.
He collaborates with schools, counselors, social workers, psychologists and administrators who funnel needs and people to him. Without these people, he wouldn’t know who to help.
Bryan serves on half a dozen local boards – including the Lincoln Homeless Coalition – because he knows that transferring the knowledge and information he takes in every day to a room of problem-solving people can help him and the people he serves.
He’s one of many people in LPS and the city who hear the stories of the homeless community.
Yes, he has a big job, but he’s not alone.
If Bryan can get the small, quiet voices of the homeless heard then he’s done his job well, because being heard matters.