I’d like to introduce you to one of our most beloved staff members. Our Executive Director jokes often that Joy would gladly dedicate the rest of her life to the HER Shelter – but there is truth within the humor. Joy is a unique person in this world, with both an incredibly rich personality and an equally deep well of professional knowledge and devotion. Many of you may know her from personal experience or just from meeting her at one of our events. For you, this interview will be a hearty reminder of Joy’s character. And for those who may not know her – you will soon! She’s a keeper, I promise. She wrote the purple answers to the questions herself, and they are unedited! Joy in her pure written form. Enjoy!
Part One – Professional/Work-Related Questions:
1) Please start by giving an overview of your time and positions here at the HER Shelter.
Prior to working here, I was an intern. As an intern, I spent the majority of my time manning the 24-hour hotline. Getting to help people in need on a first hand basis was so rewarding to me that even after I completed my hours, I continued to come back as often as I could. I was so excited when my original position as the Children’s Program Coordinator become available. As the CPC, I had the opportunity to assist in a variety of tasks involving the children including providing support groups, taking children who for the most part have never had the opportunity to do so on fun outings, helping the children to study and excel in school and getting to work with the parents to help them gain skills they felt would help them to be even better parents. After being in that position for 4 years, I was promoted to the Program Director. As much as I loved the Children’s Program, I wanted to be in a position where I could help to provide more influence over the programs in order to help strengthen them and ensure that we were providing the best possible service to not just the children but to everyone entering our program.
2) Can you describe what you think about everyday as you drive to work?
As I drive to work in the mornings, I pray for guidance in providing the best service I can to our clients. I strive to always have the right words and actions to help clients to believe in themselves so that they can continue moving forward. Many of the clients that I have served can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, so it is important to help them to be able to visualize it so that they don’t give up. Each day we go to work and hope we can change someone’s life.
3) This can be challenging and emotional work. How do you cope with the stress and the heavy emotional toll that sometimes threatens to go home with you?
Our staff does a wonderful job of being there for each other so I talk to them to debrief when I am having a hard time. I also try to take time daily to do something relaxing such as sitting outside, playing games with my family or listening to music.
4) During your time at the HER Shelter, is there a particular mistake you made that you think you learned the most from?
For a long time, I did not grasp the importance of self-care. I wanted to ensure that everything was taken care of for everyone else and forgot about myself. I now know that in order to best care for others, I have to take care of myself.
5) When you were a dewy-eyed youth, was this the type of work you imagined yourself doing? If not, what other career paths were you interested in pursuing?
All my life, I have wanted to be able to help others. Initially, I planned to be a therapist, however I happened upon the Shelter when I was looking for a place for my final internship and I loved it. Getting to be a part of something that is working to better the community is an amazing feeling.
6) In what ways do the mission and vision of the HER Shelter resonate with you on a personal level?
I believe both personally and professionally in advocating for those who, for whatever reason, are unable to do so – which is why I am so invested in HER. The staff at HER works hard to ensure that victims and survivors have what they need in order to live a safe and prosperous life which is something I always want to be involved in. It is vital to me that the work continues for all of those persons who have not yet been able to get to safety.
7) Similar to an earlier question, is there a particular story or moment of success that has stuck with you and encouraged you over the years?
Seeing clients who have started to believe in themselves keeps me encouraged. One client’s story in particular has stuck with me over the years. She was in her mid 40s and had never been allowed to work nor had she ever had her own home. She left abusive parents to marry someone who she thought would take care of her however he became abusive as well. Her husband never would allow her to work or leave the home for long lengths of time. While working with HER, she was able to obtain her very first job and apartment. She was so happy as she gave me a tour of her home. Clients like her also help me to stay humble and not to take things for granted.
8) As a leader in the organization, what is your strategy to motivate and supervise other employees?
I believe in showing my appreciation for a job well done. The staff has to work so hard and endure a lot at times so it’s important to me that they know that the work could not be done without them. Also, I would never ask anyone to do anything that I was unwilling to do myself. If they ever need help, I always try to be there for them.
9) If you were to give advice to a young person interested in work like this, what would be the top tips you’d give?
- Always take care of yourself to help avoid burnout. Find something that relaxes you and spend time doing it for at least a few minutes a day.
- Always give your all. Not everyone you help will be successful but knowing that you honestly did everything that you possibly could will help when you begin to question yourself.
- Ensure that you never impose your personal beliefs on your clients. You are there to help them to reach goals that they set not that you feel they should have. It is their life to live not yours.
- Take the time to hear what your client is saying and show them that you care. If you do not care about them succeeding, you will not be effective in truly helping them.
Part Two – Personal/Get-to-Know-You Questions:
1) In a few sentences, how would you summarize yourself? Who is Joy?
I am a person who genuinely wants everyone around me to be happy and safe. I can feel when others are stressed or unhappy and want to help them through whatever they are going through. I believe that everyone deserves to live a wonderful life and be able to love themselves.
2) Dog person or cat person? Why?
I like them both but if I had to pick one, I would say I am a dog person. They provide loyalty and unconditional love which are vital traits to me.
3) When life gives you lemons, what do you do?
As they say, “when life gives you lemons make lemonade”. Life will not always be perfect but there is a lesson that can be learned in everything. Adversities help us to become stronger. Rough patches are hard but I have learned they don’t last forever.
4) If Joy was a kitchen product she would be a _______? Why?
Blender. I like putting things together and making them into something wonderful.
5) Stopping three good friends of yours on the sidewalk, I ask them to describe you and they say….?
Friendly, loyal, dedicated.
6) You’re stuck on a reasonably tropical island with decent weather, food-grade plant-life, and plentiful seagull eggs – what three things do you ask the genie for?
My family (includes the dog), books, and music
7) The HER Shelter is a family-oriented organization – would this also be a fitting description for you? (Without too much detail!)
Absolutely! Family is the most important thing in my life.
8) What are your top personal strengths and weaknesses?
- Strengths: Positive outlook, strong work ethic, flexible
- Weaknesses: Unorganized and shy at times
9) Life-long goal – climbing Mount Everest? Sailing the seven seas?
- Work related long term goal: To be able to set up a full time, counseling program for the clients that we serve to better assist them in overcoming the trauma they have experienced.
- Personal: Do missionary work in Africa