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Career Story: Resident Coordinator Of A Homeless Shelter

Resident Coordinator Of A Homeless Shelter

Job Title: Resident Coordinator In A Shelter.

Type of Company: I work for a private non-profit agency that provides support services to the homeless and the mentally ill.

Education: BA, Education, UMass-Amherst

Previous Experience: I worked in a group home with abused and neglected children. I then worked in a group home with mentally ill adults. I then transferred to the shelter program within my company.

Job Tasks: I provide support services to individuals who suffer from long-term mental illnesses. These individuals have various debilities; some have schizophrenia, some have bipolar disorder or post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Others wrestle with substance abuse. Still others have had a run of bad luck and have lost their jobs and don't know how to get help. My company provides housing to people with long-term mental illness. Many residents of these programs begin at the shelter and transition to the auxiliary programs we offer.

Adults with a mental illness have difficulty doing things that the rest of us take for granted and because they have difficulty communicating with other people they're often isolated. They sometimes need support and medication. We provide services that include medication monitoring and education, symptom management, training in communication and daily living skills (how to do laundry, or go shopping; how to clean, budget, cook).

I also help the afflicted to get the services they need and connect them with Welfare, Medicaid, food stamps and psychological counseling as well as our shelters so they won't have to live on the street. Most shelters are for individuals but we also provide housing for families. People usually stay in the shelters for short periods, sometimes for a week but occasionally longer. We have people who come in and out of the shelter regularly - sometimes for breaking the rules, or for substance abuse or problems with their illnesses.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: the best part of my job is the satisfaction I get when someone is able to move into a permanent residence after straightening out his life. Residents often appreciate the help that they receive.

Human services is a good job for the heart but not the wallet. The pay is low for human services.

Job Tips: In order to be successful in this job, you have to be accepting of people and very patient and compassionate. People who come to the shelter are often struggling with illnesses and can be dirty, hopeless and angry.

Classes in psychology and sociology are helpful. Classes that help with teaching and communication would also be a benefit.

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