When did you become a donor to Second Step Housing?
The first thing I did on my first day at work with Second Step was to set up a recurring monthly donation. I want our donors to know that I am with them and that I believe in this mission every bit as much as they do.
Why did you decide to work at Second Step?
I had worked in nonprofits, mostly local, for about 15 years when I joined Second Step. Really, I wanted to work in my community in a way that could have the most positive impact. I think housing is fundamental to a person’s overall well-being – when housing is stable, all other aspects of an individual’s life can be addressed.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Showing up every day and knowing that I’m doing good. It sounds simple, but the feeling I get from using my work life to do good things is really important to me. I’m proud of it.
What is the hardest part of your job?
There is never a dull moment! Each day brings a new and unexpected challenge. We have to stay on our toes and make sure we have the bandwidth to respond to emergent issues. My Outlook calendar is a mere suggestion.
What would you say to someone considering making a donation to Second Step?
Please and thank you! We put every dollar to its best and highest use – I truly mean that. Every donation goes directly toward making our most vulnerable residents feel comfortable and stable in their home. We make sure everyone has a comfortable bed, clean sheets, warm blankets, good towels, sturdy furniture, and everything else they need to settle into their home. This is so important!
How have you seen stable housing affect the lives of Second Step residents?
A few months ago I saw one of our senior residents that I hadn’t seen in a long time, about a year. I didn’t recognize her at first. A stable home allowed her to address a long list of unmet medical needs. Her improved health literally changed her entire appearance. She had lost weight, she was walking taller, her hair and skin looked healthy, and she had some neglected dental work done. She looked so happy and healthy!
Cats or dogs?
Dogs all day!
Are you a ‘local’ or did you move to the Pacific Northwest from the Midwest, like everyone else?
I’ve been in Washington since 1998, so I’m almost local. But I grew up in Iowa, so you got me.
What are people most surprised to learn about you?
Most people don’t know that I served in the US Navy. I have medals to prove it!
Beach or mountains?
My favorite thing about Vancouver is…
Ample parking day or night. And also, I guess I’ve been here long enough now that I do feel a sense of community. In general, people are kind and in the nonprofit community in specific people are open to working together in innovative ways to help those in need. I really feel that openness and I love it.
The biggest misconception about homelessness is…
That homeless people have simply made ‘bad life choices’. This attitude simply does not account for the environment a person was raised in, their mental and behavioral health challenges, and the systems of oppression that we know adversely impact specific groups of people. Saying a homeless person has ‘made bad life choices’ is lazy and not accurate.
Will Damian Lillard bring a championship to Portland? If ‘yes’, when? If ‘no’, this interview is over.
Yes! 2023 – book it.
The perfect actor to play me in a bio-pic would be…
One of the lesser Baldwin brothers. Is there a Patty Baldwin? Less handsome and talented than the others, but funnier and a better cook.
What would you want people to know about Second Step that they might not know?
Second Step Housing is small but mighty. We own 115 units of affordable housing in Vancouver and each night we house over 250 people. That may not sound like a lot, but the impact on the people, families, and children that we house cannot be overstated. Our impact far exceeds our footprint.