Tell me a little bit about yourself – what are some of your roles and hobbies outside of Grace at the Greenlight and HTC?
I’m originally from South Carolina but feel in love with New Orleans when I visited during college. My family & I have been living here for 16 years now and couldn’t dream of living anywhere else. Outside of work and school, my life consists of my husband, 4 kids, and 2 cats. I love everything New Orleans -Mardi Gras, second lines, festivals, and just chilling on my front porch talking to my neighbors.
What is your official title at Grace at the Greenlight and how would you describe the work you do there?
I’m the Executive Director of Grace at the Green Light, and I do a little bit of everything there. Grace’s mission is to offer New Orleans unhoused population choices while providing for their basic needs (water, food, clothing, and community) in a loving manner that embraces the human spirit. We offer a variety of outreach services including daily meals, referrals, basic case management, and a reunification program for those that may be stranded here and have loved ones to return home to. I’m in charge of all program management as well as backend stuff like scheduling volunteers, fundraising, and supervising.
You are currently pursuing higher education – what degree are you seeking?
I will be graduating in a few weeks with my Master’s of Social Work. I have my Bachelor’s in Social Work and have been working on my Master’s for quite some time now.
What is your role at the HTC?
My role at HTC has been to be “all hands on deck” and step in where needed. I’ve been assisting guests with checking in, getting resources, as well as doing some crisis management with those who need more intentional interactions.
How do you see your time at the HTC influencing your study and your further work at Grace at the Greenlight?
My time at HTC has reiterated to me the importance of sitting down and listening to others’ stories. Many times, guests may come to me distressed and upset about the daily traumas they are facing. Often times, they don’t need us to offer solutions to their problems; it is as healing to offer a listening ear. Relationship building is such a key component of working with the unhoused and I’m thankful that I’ve been able to focus on that in my time at HTC. I will take that with me as I further our work at Grace at the Green Light.
Tell me a little bit about your hydration station grant!
I’m SO excited about what Grace at the Green Light has been able to accomplish with our new “Hydrate NOLA” project. We have partnered with other local organizations such as the HTC and churches to install water fountains & water bottle filling stations across the downtown area. We currently have 6 stations installed and 7 more at various stages of the installation process. Dehydration is a huge issue among the unhoused population and access to water is hard to come by. Not only does dehydration itself lead to fatalities but it can worsen other chronic ailments and lead to eventual decline in mortality. Our goal is to make sure that our unhoused have easy access to clean drinking water 24 hours a day/7 days a week. It seems so simple, and yet having access to clean drinking water can literally save a life.
What has been particularly impactful to you on a personal level about working at the HTC?
The most impactful part of my time at HTC has been building relationships and connections with both guests and other staff & volunteers at HTC. Meeting the volunteers and spending more time working alongside the staff at HTC has given me a fresh energy of knowing that we truly can make a difference in our community. And when we come together and work as partners, we can have even greater impact. Spending extended time with the guests at HTC has been super meaningful to me. Just getting to hear their stories, learn their interests and passions in life, and seeing that we are all so much more alike than we are unalike – it’s humbling. This time has been so impactful that I’m going to keep coming back to volunteer after my internship is over. The community of HTC is one like no other.
What do you hope to turn your sights to next?
I’m excited to graduate and to keep running things at Grace at the Green Light. The unhoused are my people and I don’t ever see myself leaving this area of work. I do, however, want to get more involved in politics on the local and state level to advocate for change to make our community a better place for all. I have no idea what that will look like for me, but time will tell.
Any additional insights you’d like to share?
I’m just so thankful to have been part of the HTC family for this season. HTC is such a magical place with people that truly care about each other and want to make our community a better place for all.