What is the most rewarding part of your job? What we do is change lives. Just one example of thousands is Nia Nelson. As a teen, she came to our center with her mother and four younger siblings. They were sleeping at a Metrorail station, and she would get up every morning to go to school. Her family was able to find sanctuary at Chapman and get a fresh start. Today, as a result of the programming and services provided to Nia at our center, and her determined spirit, she is a freshman at Florida International University on a Golden Panther Scholarship. Nia is following her dream to become a nurse and serve her community in the medical field.
You have a personal connection to homelessness. Can you speak a little about how that impacted your decision to work at Chapman Partnership? My journey to Chapman Partnership was driven by my love for my uncle Billy. He eventually succumbed to homelessness as a result of his struggle with mental illness. This loss provided me with the insight and compassion needed to serve our families at the center.
What is your goal for Chapman Partnership and homelessness in Miami as a whole? My goal is to do everything we can to move the needle, to rewrite the narratives for the 800 individuals and families we serve each year with sustainable change. One of the ways we are creating those possibilities is our Social Enterprise Academy (SEA). The academy reimagines our current business model to drive more innovation to help our residents navigate the lack of affordable housing and to obtain a livable wage.
What is the most important lesson that 2020 has taught you? The lesson I learned in 2020 is how to harness the power of resiliency. For many there was a giant pause button. We didn’t have that; our services are 24/7 under any circumstances. The mission remained the same, but our delivery of programs, services and hope is now threaded with innovation and adaptability to meet the current climate we face as a result of the global pandemic.