I am a Community Housing case manager for chronically homeless individuals. I have been with The Kitchen, Inc. for almost two years.
More than a Job
Being a case manager for the homeless is more than a job. It’s a calling, a love-hate relationship of give and take, ups and downs, successes and defeats. It’s a “never the same day twice” kind of job that fills you with pride when things go right and hurts your heart when they go wrong. At its simplest, my job is to empower others to bring about change in their lives. At its most complex, my job is to lead others to the endless possibilities change can create.
A day in my life usually consists of receiving referrals to assist individuals, scheduling meetings in a comfortable place to learn about a person’s needs and guide them to resources that provide solutions to those needs. These can include food, housing, transportation, insurance, or psycho-social needs such as counseling or therapy. I can plan out my day to the minute, but if a client calls in a crisis, I drop my plans and become a source of stability and support to resolve that crisis. I’ve learned to embrace uncertainty and to adapt on the fly.
I may work with a person for a period of weeks, months, or years. I’ve learned that change comes to each person in their own time and of their own making. Our program is goal-driven and allows people to decide what aspects of their life they would like to improve. I often help people budget their money, get to medical appointments, apply for benefits or access community resources. My clients often start out with no foundation and it’s my job to fill the gaps with professionals, services, family or friends. As a case manager, I use a variety of skills to be as prepared as possible for whatever comes my way.
Everyone Deserves a Voice
The most enjoyable part of my day is developing meaningful relationships with the people I serve. The process of advocating for a person who does not have a voice is very rewarding work. We work with people who can be happy, excited, depressed, angry, and frustrated all at the same time. Helping someone who others have already counted out work towards their goals and reach their potential makes all the effort worth it.
I am proud to be a case manager for the homeless because everyone deserves a safe place to lay their head down at night. Everyone deserves dignity and respect. Everyone deserves a voice. Any day I can bring these to someone means that I have done my job.
Maria Graham, Case Manager
How to Help
Want to help end homelessness for our neighbors in need?