Woman with curly hair and glasses in

Welcoming our New Assistant Director of Programs, Joy Gallon

Please join us in welcoming our new Assistant Director of Programs, Family Advocacy & Support Team, Joy Gallon! Prior to joining us at Hildebrand, Joy worked at The Edinburg Center in Lexington, MA for over a decade. While there, she worked in various capacities, but most recently she was the Director of Community Intervention Services, responsible for overseeing short-term programs providing services to people with serious mental illnesses. “The programs that I was responsible for included a short-term respite and outreach program that provided intensive mental health services to a small number of clients (up to 5 on-site clients and up to 11 outreach clients) in our service area (18 towns and cities). We met with and provided services to these clients a minimum of twice per week and up to twice per day,” she says of her time there.

In addition, she also supervised jail diversion programs in Arlington and Waltham, which provided supervision to clinicians based at the police departments in each town, and did weekly ride-alongs with the Senior Affairs Officer in Waltham. “The clinicians would assess people in the community with an officer when someone in those communities came to the attention of police due to a mental health or substance abuse concern,” Joy writes. They would then assess the person determining whether or not services needed to be provided or whether he or she needed to go to the hospital. She continues, “I also provided hoarding assessments and services to people in Waltham brought to my attention by the police or fire departments.”

When asked what experience she hopes to bring from The Edinburg Center, Joy responds, “I hope to bring a knowledge of how to provide excellent outreach services to the people we serve in the scattered sites, and […] bring my experience serving persons with mental health concerns to the team, in order to better serve our clients who are impacted by trauma, mental illness, and substance abuse concerns.” Additionally, her two main goals are to reduce the time our clients spend in shelter and move them more quickly into permanent, sustainable housing as well as bring more workshops & trainings to our clients “in order to help equip them with the tools they need to reduce the barriers to sustainable housing.”

Prior to working in social services, Joy worked in Human Resources. She was the Director of Human Resources at a small mental health provider. While there she was drawn to work with the clients that the organization provided with services. After she left that position, she began working at The Edinburg Center and went to back to school to earn a degree in Social Work; “I love working with people, and really enjoy helping to creatively resolve the complex and challenging situations that people encounter.”

Joy received her MSW from Boston University, Masters of Communications from Emerson College, and her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Mosaic that spells "Home" and is shaped like a doormat.

Waking from the Nightmare to a Dream Come True

Lana* was laid off in March of 2015 and became homeless in May. Before coming to Hildebrand, Lana, her husband, and their daughter were placed in Emergency Assistance shelter in Central Massachusetts. “I tried to be optimistic, I wanted to follow the rules, and to go in prepared,” she said, having meticulously read rules in order to comply with the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). Unfortunately, however, her experience at her first shelter was extremely difficult and morally degrading.

She was placed into a scattered site apartment in a complex with other families in either scattered site or subsidized housing. “To be in a scattered site, you have to be motivated and disciplined,” Lana confessed. And she is extremely disciplined. Before entering shelter, she was always the provider of her family. She worked hard, so that her family could receive health care benefits and the like. This mindset had not changed for her. She would go out to workshops or trainings or in search of employment, to be sure she was in compliance as well as give her family the best chance to get out of shelter and into permanent housing.

Unfortunately, because of a lack of disciplined staff, she was targeted for a bad mother. They had no sign-in sheets and neglected to perform checks on the apartments regularly, which are both required by DHCD. While she was out trying to find ways to care for her family, her husband and others in her complex became complacent. She was reported on by the staff because at times they could not find her or claimed she was not following the rules. Had they kept a sign-in sheet they would have been aware of her comings and goings. “Once they came to check on me and asked me where I had been, and I told them ‘I’ve been here for two days to taking care of my sick daughter,’” she recalled, “nothing was in the system, it was a nightmare and I am really happy to be here [at Hildebrand].” The staff would threaten her and even got her daughter taken away from her, terminated her from the shelter, and got her food stamps taken away from her.

All the while, Lana discovered that she was pregnant. She was living out of her car, starving, estranged from her husband, and missing her daughter. But Lana is a fighter, and she appealed her termination, which led her to Hildebrand. She come to us on September 18th.

“I can’t pinpoint what it is…if it wasn’t for Hildebrand it could have gone the wrong way.”

She had 5 different case managers at the shelter in Central Mass, but here she was placed in congregate with Marc and a house full of residential assistants who are always willing to sit down and help. “If you could see my rehousing plan now compared to the one I had before, it does not even compare,” she noted. “I think it was my second day here, I was so happy, I was having eggs and it had been like 3.5 months since I’d had any.” People take for granted having the ability to prepare and eat food.

“It was a miracle he survived,” Lana said of her unborn son.

Every day at Hildebrand she continued to do everything she could to get permanent housing and a job. She hasn’t had a moment to sit back and watch a movie because she is out there doing workshops and trainings, going on job interviewing, and apartment hunting. Fortunately, she found permanent housing and moved into her apartment in Maynard on December 1st. She chose Maynard so she could be closer to her mother. “My mom said she’d help when the baby comes in February, so that I can I work,” she said, she has a difficult time being idle.

Advice for a family moving into shelter: “Take it all in, absorb it – one day at a time. And if you do all the right things, follow the rules, the right things will come.”

*name has been changed for confidentiality

Two professional women smiling for camera.

Why I Joined the Hildebrand Board, by Kelly Mann

When people ask why you joined a Board of Directors for a non-profit they are most often anticipating a heartwarming story of immediate connection with the mission of the organization. Sitting on a Board is often not glamorous and involves a lot of agenda driven conversation, voting on motions, and reviewing an unending stream of paperwork. It would take someone whose heart is in the mission of a nonprofit to join their Board. However, if I am to be honest about why I joined the Board for Hildebrand it wouldn’t involve this immediate “mission connection.” I joined the Board for Hildebrand because I was told too.

In 2007, I was working at Coldwell Banker and on top of my regular job I spearheaded a few different events for local non-profits. At that time one of the executives, Mark Lippolt, was highly involved in the charitable arm of the company. I never hesitated to work on anything that Mark brought my way and always felt passionate and driven to make the event successful. So imagine my dismay when one day Mark pulled me aside to tell me he felt I could do more, that I could do better, that I should step outside my comfort zone. And here I was thinking “but isn’t this enough?”

Mark saw something in me at the time and since he is now not only a mentor but a dear friend, I can see it more clearly. What Mark saw in me was POTENTIAL.

POTENTIAL: it is a strong word. Sometimes it is a dangerous word – but mostly it is an unstoppable word. If you see potential in someone, you are seeing them move forward despite obstacles placed in front of them.

How does this tie into Hildebrand? It’s easy: when a client walks through the door here is what the staff at Hildebrand does NOT see: failure, inability, weakness. What the Hildebrand staff does see in the clients: POTENTIAL. Hildebrand sees a client finding safe shelter, getting a job, caring for their own mental well-being as well as their children’s and, eventually, finding permanent housing and becoming self-sufficient.

Here are some other things about seeing the potential in someone – when you see potential in someone you are telling them that you have faith in them, you believe in them, that they are considered worthy. When you see potential in someone you see success and not just failure, you see the joys, the obstacles, the high and lows and everything in between, and you never see the end because there is no end.

Because potential is seeing what is possible in a person as opposed to where they actually are.

Imagine having that every day of your life? You walk through a door with no home, no money, in crisis mode and yet someone is standing there telling you that you will succeed and they will help you because where you are now does not define you. And that is what Hildebrand does. They never leave your side. They walk that path with every client.

I am happy to report that in Mark seeing my potential, I have seen the potential in myself with Hildebrand. I have scratched the surface of my own life to learn that maybe I’m not so far from that family that walks through Hildebrand’s front door. That my ancestors at one time were searching for a Hildebrand to see their potential.

If you were to ask me today why I am still on the Board of Hildebrand and why I serve as the Chair I would tell you it is because I witness a staff that leads by example, that when I go to meetings I hear the good and the bad our clients experience and I learn from staff members what it means to walk next to someone on their path. I would tell you it is because I believe that Hildebrand’s vision, every family has a home, is not just a dream but a reality. I am passionate about supporting an organization that can see a better future, regardless of the starting point, and strives to achieve this for every client.

As we go through this holiday season ask yourself if you could see the potential in a homeless family that walked through your front door. You would certainly want to help them, but how? At Hildebrand, we can show you. We can show you what it means to partner with families to help them regain their footing, to help them prepare for the workforce, to build life skills that they may have never learned. We can share with you the excitement we feel every time we “ring the bell” in the office indicating that a family has found a permanent home or even the small victories when we hold a mothers hand as she tell us what it is like to be able to find and keep a job that will help her family remain self-sufficient.

Potential: sometimes it takes an outsider to see it in us. But once they see it, there is no stopping us!

Happy Holidays to all of you! And if you would like to learn more about Hildebrand and our potential please do not hesitate to reach out to us! We are always looking for new friends!

A woman with her three small children.

A Guide for the Journey Home

Before coming to Hildebrand, Arianne* was living in the Days Inn Hotel in Methuen with four of her children. She made the choice to transfer to Hildebrand because she knew the environment was not good for her children. Five people living in the same room makes for a stressful living situation.

“At first, [my children] had a lot of questions, ‘why weren’t we living in a house?’ – they started acting up,” Arianne said of her time in Methuen. When she first came to Hildebrand she was “excited because my kids felt like they were in a home.” At the Days Inn, Arianne and her children lived in one space, without privacy. At Hildebrand, they moved into scattered site shelter, which is an apartment with a fully equipped kitchen and separate bedrooms for mother and children. “Even though we were in shelter,” she said, “to my kids, it was a home.”

When she came to Hildebrand in January of 2014, she said, “I was completely lost, lost apartment, lost job, lost car – I thought everything was lost. Deborah helped provide motivation, more organization. In Methuen, I was just there – I had no guide. When you become homeless, you don’t know what to expect.” In the 20 months Arianne and her family spent with us, she gave birth to her fifth child, went back to school for cosmetology (and finished!), and received section 8 housing.

On her advice to new families entering Hildebrand, she said, “Appreciate it, follow the rules, let the social workers guide you, follow directions to get where you want to. It’s easy – at first I was lost – Hildebrand made such a huge impact.”

Arianne moved into her new apartment in Roslindale on October 1st of this year.

Woman in casual clothes busy at her desk at work.

Staff Spotlight: Barbara Gaul, Residential Assistant

Barbara Gaul has been with Hildebrand Family Self-Help Center, Inc. since July of 2012, but that wasn’t her first experience in the realm of homelessness. “I always worked in a school, but always had a second job,” she said, working at Caspar, Inc., a homeless shelter for individuals with drug and alcohol addictions, for 5 years before working at Heading Home, Inc. née Shelter, Inc. and eventually joining Hildebrand. As her reasons for making the leap from the Boston Public School system to the homeless sector, “I wanted to make a difference.”

Caspar, Inc. was a great fit for Barbara at first, because like the individuals there, she had experienced addiction and wanted to help others, to give them the second chance she was given. But the real reason she moved on to Heading Home and eventually Hildebrand was because of her roots, working in Boston Public schools. “I’m here to help the mothers and fathers,” said Barbara, “because I want to help the kids and it starts with them [the parents].”

It all started when she went to Christmas in the City, “I teared up seeing how many families there are who need help.” So three days a week, Barbara gives back at Hildebrand, helping her clients do research for daycare, housing, school (higher-ed, HI-SET, ESL, vocational training, etc.), transportation, and employment, although she said most of the women living at Bishop Allen are employed at the moment, as well as provide emotional support. “We blame the economy,” she said, “but these young families don’t know how to raise a family because they didn’t have parents who taught them how.”

Working in a congregate living program is a much different experience than being a case manager because for 8 or more hours a day, the staff is an active part of the lives of those who live there; staff and clients get to know each other on a much more intimate level. If someone is having a bad day, they go to “Ms. Barbara” and the other residential staff to help them get through it.

Two clients, in particular, stand out to Barbara as people she’d deem a success. Royce* came to Hildebrand with his girlfriend and their infant son, lovingly deemed little Royce*. Unfortunately, his girlfriend left Royce at Hildebrand, alone with their child. Royce himself was nearly a child at 19 years old, raising his son on his own. Shelter was not easy for Royce at first; he had never learned to properly take care of himself because his mother was a drug addict. In shelter, Royce was reprimanded for not properly cleaning, missing the baseboards and behind the toilet. Furthermore, he did not know how to cook or even shop for groceries. He had been all but abandoned by his mother and then by his child’s mother.

Fortunately, Royce had help from Barbara and the other residential assistants at Bishop Allen, who took the time to teach him how to cook and clean, and one even took him though Market Basket and showed him how to grocery shop. While he had trouble with household tasks, he was very good father. He took little Royce to daycare in Dorchester every day. He had dropped out of school in his junior year, but with help he enrolled at Cambridge Rindge and Latin and was even able to get little Royce into daycare there all on his own.

While in school full-time and raising his son on his own, he diligently searched for housing on his own. He received section 8 housing and got an apartment in Dorchester in April of 2013. He was able to finish out the year at Rindge despite moving.

What makes his achievements so great is that he suffered from a brain tumor, which was drained frequently, and he suffered from depression. His mother used him to feed her habit. Royce had little, but he cared for his mother and thought she would change so he gave to her what little he had. With Barbara’s help, he learned to let go of his mother in order to take better care of his son. But it often left him sad, unsure of whether he could continue on. But he did. Barbara recalls, “He got what he got because he wanted to get it.” Royce wanted to provide a better life for his son than he had.

Royce was in shelter for a little over a year before he found housing. And today, he’s employed and still has his apartment in Dorchester with his son. Every December, around his birthday, Royce comes to visit Barbara at Bishop Allen. He considers her family for all she taught him. He’ll be 23 this year. He has overcome so much, thanks to his hard work and a little help from Hildebrand.

Drita, a 22 year old single mother of two, came to Hildebrand to escape domestic violence. Originally from Albania, Drita was married in the United States where she gave birth to their two boys. Unfortunately, her husband’s abuse led her to flee the marriage. A month after coming to Hildebrand, her passport expired – which became a huge obstacle for her to move on and gain stability in her life. With the help of Barbara, her two boys received childcare. The younger, Benik, went to the Salvation Army while the older, Endrit*, enrolled in the elementary school that Barbara worked in.

Because her passport expired, “[Drita] was just a number.” She tried to get into Empire Beauty School, but was denied because she did not have a picture ID. She was offered a job, but because her ID had expired, the offer was revoked. She tried to open a bank account at Santander Bank, but was initially denied, again because she lacked picture identification. However, with the help of Barbara’s diligence, Drita was able to open a savings account.

Drita moved into scattered site shelter before attaining section 8 housing in Salem. Barbara was proud of Drita even before she moved to Salem because she was the very definition of a mother. She took them to the Cambridge Public Library after school and was able to travel using public transportation in spite of her language barrier. Drita kept in touch with Barbara for about a year after she moved to Salem. When last they spoke, Drita was divorced and had a renewed passport and green card, and she was enrolled at Bunker Hill Community College.

“It’s called ‘self-help.’ They can stand on their own two feet, but we help them get there. But how do we help them when they are gone, what do we tell them?” Barbara asked. Once clients move beyond shelter, case managers work with them for a year to help them maintain self-sufficiency. But it becomes a different, much more emotional experience for clients and residential staff alike when clients leave the congregate living programs. The clients and residential staff alike want their stories to end in success.

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of our clients.

Panel discussion.

Investing in Your Staff

A reaction to “Lessons from Leaders,” a panel at ADVANCE the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network annual conference

21 October 2015

It was a warm fall morning, bursting with traffic down route 128 and the mass pike, the ballroom at the Sheraton Framingham was bustling with nearly 600 people employed at over 400 different nonprofits in Massachusetts. Tammy Dowley-Blackman, the Vice President of CFLeads, moderated the opening plenary, “Lessons from Leaders.” She began the discussion by asking, “How do we do this work and how do we do it well?”

Stewart Lanier, the Director of Consulting & Executive Transitions at Third Sector New England, situates his audiences with a statistic: 64% of nonprofit leaders say they will be leaving their position in 5 years. These leaders, predominately white baby boomers, are “getting off the highway” while Gen-Xers are honking and millennials are looking for alternative routes.

The, perhaps, biggest problem is that the sector under invests in its people, focusing only 1% of its resources on professional development. There is a pressure to fundraise for programming, but not to invest in the staff. “What is the right model of leadership,” Lanier asks before the moderator probes another panelist.

Lisa Brown Morton, the CEO of Nonprofit HR, notes that 68% of nonprofits operate without a succession plan. Nonprofits are facing real challenges around the people they need, she said, they need reality based solutions. And, according to Brown Morton, we need to invest in human resources or, as she refers to it, “human capital.” She recalls three areas that impede upon investment: competitive pay, inability to promote from within, and excessive workloads.

John Bradley, the COO of Year Up, comments that there is an underinvestment in workforce development. At Year Up, which was voted Best Place to Work, Bradley says that they invest a lot of time and energy in the recruiting process to make sure that potential employees are mission-fit. “We are clear on culture right up front,” he said, because if they don’t fit in with the mission and culture both their work and yours will suffer. Bradley says that onboarding is key — 30 days on every new hire at Year Up. It’s important to set objectives, review talent, and chart succession.

Moderator Dowley-Blackman asks, “Where is the sector headed?” Of note, Brown Morton gives two points: (1) more nonprofits are giving or creating new positions for growth opportunities from within and (2) developing recruitment and retention strategies. “Leaders need to get better at asking for resources to better our people,” Lanier says, which sparks a murmur in the crowd. A fellow audience member asks, “Organizations are rewarded for underpaying our employees, how do we justify workforce development when they may move on to another employment opportunity?”

Dowley-Blackman suggests that you quantify your turnover and show how it negatively impacts your organization. On their closing words: Lanier: “Ask”; Brown Morton: “Invest in human capital”; Bradley: “Make it part of your culture.”

This panel was an eye opening experience because Hildebrand prides itself on its investment of employees. We love to promote from within, offer competitive pay and benefits, and provide opportunities for staff to grow within their position and within the company. While oftentimes funders or board members put their focus and care into the support of those being served, it’s important to note that if we do not invest in our employees that might not be putting forth their best self. We are lucky to have a culture, board of directors, and senior management that prides itself the betterment of both clients and staff alike.

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