Johannah joined the Thrive Central Oregon team in March as a Community Outreach Advocate I, and we caught up with her to share a little bit about her journey in nonprofit work, starting her own nonprofit, and how she finds social work rewarding.
What brought you to Thrive Central Oregon?
I worked in the nonprofit sector previously but had transitioned out a couple of years ago. I really wanted to get back into the nonprofit world! I just had started my own nonprofit that serves those experiencing homelessness and their pets and instantly grew attached to serving not only pets but their humans too. When I saw that Thrive was hiring, I knew I had to apply. The idea of working one on one with someone, helping support their every day and basic needs was in instinct “attraction.” There is just something special about working for a nonprofit and being of service to your community.
What is your favorite part of being on the Thrive team?
My favorite part of being on the Thrive team is that we are all generally here for the same reason. We believe that humans have fundamental rights, like housing/shelter, access to clean water and food, healthcare, and we want to do our part to ensure that these needs are met. We work really hard and have a lot of difficult conversations, and we encourage and support each other day in and day out. It’s the little walk around the block or a funny group text from a team member that makes me take a breath and keep going.
Can you share a story from your time with Thrive thus far?
Oh man! There are so many rewarding stories! Again, we have many hard and difficult conversations each and every day, but when we get a win it’s so incredible! A recent “big win” is a story on resilience, determination and staying positive. I had transitioned into this role and started working with a Veteran and his family. His family had been houseless for nearly two years, and it seemed they were just hitting one road black after another. He had a HUD VASH voucher, but with the housing market and a multitude of other barriers we were running out of time. I have to give a HUGE shout out to his case worker at the VA because she wouldn’t take no for an answer with rental companies. We worked together really hard to get this family housed. Just when the voucher was about to expire, we were able to secure a lease for him and his family! After being houseless for nearly two years, this family has a place to call home. We don’t always get a win, but when we do, it’s pretty freaking awesome!
What stories do you think will stick with you after your time with Thrive?
I think the stories that will stick with me aren’t really stories, just moments. When you call someone and they are just grateful someone called them back and took the time to listen to their experience. This work is humanizing- we work hard to help meet people's needs but often it's the little things, like asking how someone is doing and really listening, that reminds me why I do this work.