The Newcomer – a client success story
This blog was written by Safe Haven Employment Navigator Emily Brazzel, M. Div. about a client, Diane (name changed to protect confidentiality), and her new career.
I cannot think of a greater honor in my professional life than walking alongside Diane in finding her new career. I am also happy for the nonprofit world because we have a new professional to work alongside us as we strive to end homelessness. Diane is uniquely equipped with the heart and expertise born out of her own experience with homelessness.
Diane never imagined that she and her family would face homelessness. Not too long ago, Diane had a good job in a major corporation and a stable home. Last fall, she found herself in need of Safe Haven Family Shelter’s support. When I first spoke with Diane, after she and her kids had settled into their new place through Safe Haven, she was focused on building back the financial stability she once had. It was quickly clear to me that she has a great deal of potential. As an Employment Navigator, however, I know how competitive the workforce can be, especially when someone has experienced the setbacks that so many of our clients at Safe Haven have experienced. In addition to building back her own stability, Diane also had a desire to support people going through the hardships she has experienced. After talking about her goals and work history, she asked “How do I get a job at a place like Safe Haven or the YWCA?” Staff members with lived experience of homelessness are a huge asset to organizations that serve those facing and experiencing homelessness. I suggested to Diane that we look for jobs where that expertise and experience is honored. I also suggested that we look for jobs in Diane’s old field as those jobs seemed may be easier to obtain.
It was not long after our discussion that I learned from a coworker about a national nonprofit looking to hire someone with lived experience of homelessness. It was great news, but it also meant that Diane had the daunting task of writing a cover letter for the first time. I admitted to her that I have found writing cover letters to be an almost universally painful exercise. With some time and a couple of pep talks, she submitted a great cover letter. Diane then had to complete a rigorous interview process for the position. After her final interview the CEO reflected on his impression of Diane and said, “This lady is going somewhere! We want to be a part of that.”
Diane is starting her new job. She will be working full-time and making 18% more than her original salary request. Diane will be advocating for those in positions similar to the one that brought her to Safe Haven, while striving to end homelessness all together.