What sparked your interest to apply for this role after you graduated from Newman last spring?
First of all, I think the United Way, just the name, is pretty dope. My first professional interaction with United Way was helping with the Catholic Charities United Way internal campaign. I went to the Kickoff Breakfast, and I loved the energy in the room. I have definitely noticed on social media all the things United Way does, and it kept United Way on my radar. Dolly Parton Imagination Library and Read to Succeed are both programs near and dear to my English major heart.
Describe your role so a fourth grader could understand what you do.
Essentially, I’m here to make sure the homeless service network in Wichita is taking care of people. I monitor clients to make sure those who need help the most are without shelter for a time as brief as possible; the goal is that the time without housing is brief, rare, and doesn’t occur again. … I have an eagle eye’s view – I am working just with agencies.
Is this role what you envisioned for your first job out of college
I never intended to be a housing navigator at United Way of the Plains. I thought right now I would be a computer programmer in Colorado riding up and down a mountain on a bike. But I love it!
How does an English major like you end up working in the nonprofit industry?
My sophomore year of college, I transferred to Newman and was enrolled in their seminary program. I discerned out of that program after I decided it wasn’t for me. I was already volunteering at Catholic Charities as part of my studies. I loved all the programs there. After I left seminary, the executive director of Catholic Charities, Wendy Glick, called me and asked, ‘Do you need a job?’ A volunteer coordinator position had opened. That job was such a cool experience because you work in every single ministry at Catholic Charities, from distributing food at Our Daily Bread to working the desk at Harbor House domestic violence shelter. For the last two years while I was finishing my English degree, I was enriched in social services and learning what it means to be a person who serves. Ultimately, I decided a better way of using my services is understanding complicated federal guidelines and implementing them in the community by dedicating myself to good communication and collaboration with all the agencies we serve.
What would you like the community to know about you as a person?
I am engaged to my fiancée, Maddie, and am getting married in December. We read books to each other, and we write letters to each other. We watch TV and take long walks in the park.
Tell us more about your writing hobby.
I was an English major. I have been involved in journalism the past two years, and I wrote for the school newspaper. I have written a couple articles for The Catholic Advance. I really like writing about maintenance stuff. I also write poetry and short stories, some published in Newman University’s literary journal. I won awards for one story, but everything else I’ve done is just for me. I have a goal of writing books someday – definitely fiction books.
What is the number one reason you’re excited to work at United Way?
I can make a difference both doing my job and just being part of the team. Just by smiling at people in the hallway, I am supporting good work.