Katie & Symone: Modern-Day Miracle Workers
Our clients get to know these two people perhaps more than any other staff during their time at the Shelter. They work in the same little office, spend lots of time completing similar tasks, and miss each other dreadfully if one happens to be sick or on vacation! They are absolutely, positively incredible and we couldn’t do our work everyday without them. We’d like to introduce you to two of our rock stars: Katie & Symone! Check out their interview below:
1) Please start by giving an overview of your time and roles here at the HER Shelter.
Katie – I have been at The H.E.R. shelter for about 2.5 years as a family case manager. My primary goal is to connect our clients with resources and services to increase self-sufficiency. I work from an empowerment approach where we focus on individual’s strengths and creativity to promote healthy and safe outcomes for the family.
Symone – I have been working with the HER shelter for almost 2 and half years. I started off as a Mobile Crisis Coordinator then transitioned into a case manager.
2) Can you describe what you think about everyday as you drive to work?
Katie – I think about all the things. I think about my family, my future and of course, where I am going to get my next cup of coffee!
Symone – Every day that I drive to work I think about how I am impacting others and helping others to see the light through the tunnel that they thought they would never be able to reach.
3) This can be challenging and emotional work, how do you cope with the stress and the emotional toll that sometimes threatens to go home with you?
Katie – I learned early on the importance of separating work from home. When I am at home, I focus all my attention into investing in my loved ones and myself and not letting any stress of the job interfere with my personal life. I also make a point to exercise at least three times a week and listen to music in my down time.
Symone – I try to do some activities that I really enjoy such as listening to music, painting and retail therapy.
4) During your time at the HER Shelter, is there a particularly mistake you made that you think you learned the most from?
Katie – One mistake I have made was setting my own expectations for some of our clients without taking into consideration their level of readiness or motivation to change. When I was new to this work, I wanted every single one of my clients to break barriers and succeed in every part of their life. What I did not realize was that we serve clients from all walks of life and who are at different stages of life. I learned that I have to meet the client where THEY are in life and gauge what intervention is most appropriate to meet their needs. I respect our client’s right to self-determination and continue to support them in their own decisions.
5) When you were a kid, was this the type of work you imagined yourself doing? If not, what other career paths were you interested in pursuing?
Katie – As a child, I always knew I wanted to work closely with people and helping those in need. I never could imagine exactly what I wanted to do because I was interested in so many different subjects. I like to think that this work found me in a sense; in my undergraduate career, I experienced discrimination in many forms and I noticed some of my peers going through similar experiences whether it be for their race, gender, or orientation. I felt called to speak against it in any way possible. Today, I am proud to say that I am an advocate for all and I am hopeful for a more promising future for young men and women growing free of violence and intolerance.
Symone – As a kid I knew that I always wanted to be in the helping profession field. I always thought that I wanted to be a nurse however, my sophomore year in college I decided to change my major to Human Services because I felt that this career would be more awarding for me working with populations that are really in need.
6) In what ways do the mission and vision of the HER Shelter resonate with you on a personal level?
Katie – I have always been a peacekeeper. I also feel a great responsibility to help those in need and make sure they are given all of the opportunities they deserve.
7) Is there a particular story or moment of success that has stuck with you and encouraged you over the years?
Katie – My favorite moments are when our clients first come into shelter and they are finally able to just breathe. You can actually see the physical change in some of our client’s posture and demeanor because they may no longer be in fear. Our goal is to foster a safe and welcoming environment for clients to feel comfortable. Being able to see this is rewarding enough and encourages me to keep doing what I do.
Symone – Everyday that I come into work and get to help someone who might have completely lost hope on life – everyday I help see success.
8) If you could summarize your work in a word, what would it be?
Katie – Persistence.
Symone – Puzzle.
9) If you were to give advice to a young person interested in work like this, what would be your top tips?
Katie – Don’t think that you are not cut out for this type of work because it is not something that was learned in school . There is no wrong or right way to be an advocate.
Symone – Stay focused on the end goal, whatever that may be. You will always find a way to do what needs to be done if you know your WHY.
10) In a few sentences, how would you summarize yourself? Who is Katie? Who is Symone?
Katie – My favorite role in life is as an auntie. Then there is the coffee-loving, dog-obsessed, feminist who wants to save the world from intolerance and hatred.
Symone – Symone is a 24 year-old lady who is smart, caring, and funny.
11) Morning person or evening person? Why?
Katie – Evening person. My coffee needs to kick in before I can be the least bit productive.
Symone – Definitely an evening person. I have never been a morning person ever since I was little.
12) When life gives you lemons, what do you do?
Katie – Make lemon and cucumber-infused water because hydration is key!
Symone – Make lemonade and drink it peacefully.
13) If you were a cleaning product, you would be _____? Why?
Katie – Clorox disinfectant wipes because I can’t afford to get sick!
Symone – I think I would be bleach because it’s so potent and makes everything clean!
14) Stopping three good friends of yours on the sidewalk, I ask them to describe you and they say…?
Katie – They’d probably say that I find a joke in each day, that I can be pretty sarcastic at times, but all in all I care deeply for those around me.
Symone – They would say I am very outgoing, goofy/silly, spoiled, and very independent.
15) It’s the end of the world and the zombies are coming – what’s your strategy to survive?
Katie – Head up north, zombies hate the cold.
Symone – Find a dark cave and stay there. LOL.
16) The HER Shelter is a family oriented organization – would this also be a fitting description for you?
Katie – Yes, my family is my support network. They help motivate me and continue to encourage me in this work.
Symone – I would honestly say that I am not a family oriented person never grew up that way , however because this was never really instilled in me so to work for organization that is this way I really cherish it.
17) What are your top strengths and weaknesses?
Katie – Strengths: Compassionate, empathetic and understanding. Weaknesses: Not super organized, tends to go with the flow a lot.
Symone – I would say that being kind and nice would have to be one of my strengths AND weakness. I would say being so nice is sometimes considered a weakness because I have a hard time of saying “No”.
18) Life-long goals – base-jumping in Yosemite? President? Traveling to Mars?
Katie – Give back to those who put so much into me growing up.
Symone – Traveling the world.