Tomorrow I am part of a team who is doing the first round interviews for a person who will hold a new position at our site. This person will be in charge of helping residents in crisis--helping to find sources of money when emergencies strike, knowing when and where the food pantries are, helping with how to deal with schools and banks and more.
This is interesting to me at a couple of levels. My former employer--who was fantastic--had a different vision. The office staff did everything. So I screened our resident population, took applications, did leasing orientations, the annual income verifications AND have always had this role where I helped out people who needed it. It was almost unspoken but it was there. I had a resident last week call me for help figuring out a financial decision she needed to make. She said she knew no one in this area and because I have always been fair with her she feels like I am her mother. I have been called that, or a sister many times. (other things I can't print too, but those would be the good things I have been called! LOL) It often cracks me up because I am often not much older than the people who I am helping. Which goes to show that mothering is not about age, but that is another post for another day!
One of the things about my job is that I learned that getting housing is not the fix to life problems. It can be a stepping stone. But if someone doesn't have a support network, sometimes, having a great apartment doesn't help their life improve all that much. This is not always the case, but sometimes is. If someone never knew how to clean for instance, guess what their apartment looks like if you don't take the time to teach and guide. And you need to find a way to do this without hurting feelings.
My new employer has a different vision where none of that is my job. I was sad about this at first as truthfully many many rewarding things have happened over the years. I have gotten to know many of my residents in ways I could not necessarily with the "new" model. But I also recognize that I don't have the time to fully meet the wide variety of needs out there, and do the other stuff that goes with my enhanced duties. Maybe under the old system there were lots of people I should have helped and didn't. One person 35 hours a week can only do so much. So I have come to terms with the fact that this change is happening and it begins tomorrow with the interviewing.
This is new ground for me too. I have never really been involved in hiring much. I hired my leasing consultant when my wife left the position 7 years ago. But in reality, the best qualified person (who I hired) turned out to be someone I knew from her work with a social service agency that I had close contact with. So it was not the most formal of interviews!
This is, but it is exciting that my employers want me to be part of that. So tomorrow, I have interviews essentially all day and we will see after that who makes the short list! I am looking for an empathetic person who is also not a push over. Someone who can build relationships of trust with my resident population--many come from situations where they have felt marginalized or mistreated by DSS or other agencies. It is a tricky balance, teaching, guiding and helping without enabling without being perceived as judging.