A Day In the Life: Working at Harvest House

A Day In The Life: Staff Teambuilding

Operation Shadow Report

Over the last 7 months or so, staff members haven’t been able to gather as frequently or in the same ways that we used to. We used to meet in person at least once a quarter for trainings and team building activities, but attempts to limit the spread of COVID-19 have not supported this practice.

We’ve also hired a few new employees that have not yet connected with team members not in their immediate job domains. The leadership team decided to organize an activity that would bring team members from our two client services teams together – ‘Addiction & Veteran Services’ and ‘Family & Young Adult Services.’ We called this activity Operation Shadow.

Staff members had general idea of what each person does throughout the day but did not know exactly what processes might be behind each job function and how these can look different across the varying populations that Harvest House serves.

After 8 hours with each other, team members were asked to report back to the leadership team with key takeaways about their partner’s job functions and how they might be executed differently depending on the client’s needs. Staff members enjoyed spending time with each other in intimate settings and some even got some great ideas to use with their own clients.

Harvest House believes in meeting people where they are to support them as they work towards a life of health and wholeness. We want to see every person and family that we serve achieve stability, and we know that looks different for everyone. Housing is just the starting point; the magic happens in the little moments with our client services teams every day.

Below are excerpts from the team member’s responses. Click on a team to jump to that section.

Addiction & Veteran Services
Family & Young Adult Services
team building

Family & Young Adult Services Team:

Family Services Manager - Jordan

Jordan has many job duties. She is the Master Case Manager for the families at the shelter and families that are living throughout North County but are doubled up or in other unstable living conditions. She attends weekly meetings with community partners to coordinate the family services throughout the county. Jordan is the supervisor for the Intake Specialist and the Home Again Case Manager. If the Intake Specialist is not around, she completes intake and exit meetings for the emergency shelter. Jordan is also providing case management for families for the Challenge grant that Harvest House recently received. I was able to sit in on a meeting with a client and children and it was a beautiful thing watching the way Jordan interacted with this mom. This mother was provided with many tools and set some new goals to help her on her journey. Jordan was detailed and engaged with the mom and kids and cared so much about the stability of her and her children’s life. I sat back and thought about the differences working with families compared to single men and women. I know both are very important, but with families there is so much urgency for a stable foundation and so many more obstacles because you’re trying to help the whole family unit. Looking at the children and knowing they do not have to struggle anymore because of the hard work of their mother to provide for them and the tools and resources that Jordan has helped her with is amazing.

She earned a degree in Criminal Justice in Pennsylvania. Before coming to Harvest, she worked at MCS Children Advocacy doing forensic interviews with children. She found out about Harvest through one of her friends who is a current staff member, Layla.

I am very grateful for the work Jordan does for our agency. I really enjoyed shadowing with Jordan!

– Jessica, Women’s Residential Manager

Young Adult Services Manager - Dayna

I had a wonderful time with Dayna! I personally think we have a lot in common. I saw how she LOVEs on people. One of her clients just happened to be walking by and Dayna called her over to see how she was doing. Long story short, I ended up praying for the client and telling some of the history about the very house that we were sitting in. So, I prayed that one day she serves, so that she may be a blessing to others in the same way. That really made my day!

– Tucker, Men’s Residential Manager

Dayna works with young adults ages 18-24 who are housed in New Heights, Emergency or Transitional Housing, who frequent the YOUth Drop-in Center, and who are in the community experiencing or at-risk of experiencing homelessness.

Housing Manager - Christie

I had the opportunity to shadow Christie in her office and see how extensive her job is as Housing Manager. Christie is responsible for 75 properties, their leases, their maintenance, and the rents each month. Twenty-five of these properties are NSP homes with the remainder of the homes being Home Again. For her Home Again clients, where she works with Layla for case management. Christie also interviews potential residents for all 75 properties and completes the initial intake paperwork for clients that are entering Home Again. She also orders all supplies for her team of maintenance and property managers, making sure everyone has what they need to accomplish their job.  

Christie is meticulous with paperwork and documentation; she has always held the bar high in this regard and this is her favorite part of the job. Christie has the responsibility to make determinations on whether or not a potential client is a good fit for Home Again or NSP.

Christie loves her job and her team just as I do; she makes sure everything is in place in regards to paperwork when she passes them off to Layla for Case management. She works with her maintenance team to make sure that units are left in pristine condition for the next client to start their new life. She has a lot to juggle and she does it in excellence and with a calm, determined spirit. It was a pleasure shadowing Christie and I have respect for her in her position and the value she adds to Harvest House as a whole.

– Lynda, Addiction Services Manager

Case Manager - Layla

Though we have similar job duties such as sending referrals, profiles and assessments, service plans and meetings with clients, the clients appear to have higher ability to function independently. The two monthly check-ins with family clients consist of one office meeting to discuss the service plan and goal progress, and one in-house meeting to inspect living conditions and correct them when needed.

Another aspect of her job is sending referrals for mental health, childcare, and other various needs of the families. She also assists the families with getting school supplies and organizing the school programs in a way that helps the parents understand what their kid should or could be doing. If parents or teens who are no longer in high school are interested in getting their GED, she assists with the enrollment process for them as well.

Networking with community providers and assisting with housing plans is another important aspect. Layla was able to provide me with a housing list used to give clients leads on affordable housing in the area. This will be very helpful with my veteran clients! If client’s have a very low income or a history of homelessness and are eligible for a voucher, she will assist in the application process for the voucher.

Staying in contact with DCF case workers, probation officers, and sometimes doctors is part of holding the client’s accountable and keeping them on track in the program. Lastly, Layla networks in the community to find speakers for their Monday night meetings and organizes activities for the families to bond, connect, and have fun together.

– Erin, Case Manager (VETS)

Intake Specialist - Dawn

This week I had the opportunity to spend time with Dawn and observe her work atmosphere. During this time, Dawn provided me with a tour of the units and showed me some of the newly purchased furniture. Dawn explained to me that the task of purchasing furniture and supplies for the units are a part of her duties. She stated they have been having difficulty with the furniture arriving on time due to the epidemic. I also had the opportunity to sit with Dawn and Jordan on their weekly conference call with other local agencies and Suncoast Partnership to End Homelessness regarding family housing. I have had experience with these calls in the past on an individual side, so it was interesting to see how the agencies work together for families and children. Everyone immediately collaborates and determines ways to assist the families in need. It truly is amazing what good can come out of putting multiple ideas together for the betterment of people in need.  

We discussed the difficulties she faces when attempting to provide support for families who may not give back the effort 100%. We also discussed her tasks of ensuring all individuals in the family have ID’s, birth certificates, and any other necessary documents to gain employment, housing, benefits, and school enrollment. We each face the task of potentially discharging clients and how at times it is difficult when children are involved. We talked about the differences in scheduling clients for intakes and appointments and how no shows/cancellations can affect your workflow for the day. 

My takeaway from shadowing Dawn: Where we may have the same title as Intake Specialist Extraordinaire 😊 and some of our assigned duties replicate each other, we perform these tasks in different settings. Dawn’s setting is more focused on the family as a whole where my setting revolves around the individual. We both play an integral part in providing families and individuals the tools needed to regain stability.

I want to thank you for the opportunity to sit with Dawn and get to know her as well as see how intakes are conducted on the family side of things.

– Susan, Intake Specialist

Property Manager - Zoe

Zoe is a wonderful employee and a great asset to Harvest House. Zoe’s organizational skills allow him to keep track of numerous maintenance request while staying on schedule. Zoe showed me a spreadsheet for maintenance request and inventory. He knows what needs to be done and what is kept in storage. Zoe provides a checklist sheet to tenants as a way to hold them accountable for the upkeep of their unit. Zoe’s experience and on the job training provides him with a wealth of knowledge to complete his tasks. 

– Katrina

Addiction & Veteran Services Team:

Addiction Services Manager - Lynda

Lynda manages four staff members across three campuses serving over 100 men, women, and veterans recovering from substance abuse on any given night. There is a campus for men in recovery in Sarasota, a second campus for men in Manatee county, and a campus for women in Sarasota.

I met with Lynda at the men’s Sarasota campus. She goes there multiple times a week to help her staff members and meet with clients. The other days of the week she spends at the either the women’s Sarasota campus or the men’s Manatee campus. During our time together, one of her clients needed a back brace. I rode with her to pick up it up and she told me the client’s back story on the way. This client is 81 years old. He was in prison for 40 years and was just released two months ago. She described him as being a man that will likely stay with Harvest House for the rest of his life, due to his age, and not being able to work or get social security benefits.

She spent some time highlighting the critical roles of support staff like Tucker, the men’s residential manager. Tucker helps the men obtain work within 3 days of their arrival at Harvest House. He wakes the men up in the morning and takes them to work or any other needed location. 

Lynda often works the night shifts so she can meet with her clients after they come home for work. They know they can come to her whenever they need to talk without an appointment, which is different from the structure we use on the Family Services side.

When explaining my job functions, I made sure to explain the tasks that have been changed and added to the Housing Manager position, because she used to have this job many years ago. It is crazy to think that back when she was doing the job, the Lee Wetherington Family Village was not completed yet.

I’m grateful to have Lynda on our team and for the opportunity to learn more about what we do to serve the entire community.

– Christie, Housing Manager

Case Manager - Katrina

It was an awesome experience to be able to hang out with Katrina and learn the ropes from a case manager’s perspective. I learned a lot of different things about the Freedom program, such as the fact that the men’s campus has a Prison Release Program for male clients that have been released from a Florida prison. I  got to watch Katrina in action with clients such as helping get their driver’s licenses and test results from lab corp. I watched her put a client on a behavioral contract for poor choices and I also learned about the dismissal process. Her and I worked as a team; she got one of her clients to help me the next day by scheduling him to work with me cleaning out a unit on one of my properties. I learned about her professional goals and how she is working on achieving them. I also learned about the paperwork she has to fill out for clients. It was a pretty fun experience! 

– Zoe

Case Manager - Erin

It was great to meet with Erin since we are both case managers but serve such a different demographic of people. Erin is the case manager for 24 veterans in the VETS program.  In the job that Erin has, she is very “hands on” with the majority of her clients, assisting them with making appointments and even communicating with their doctors. Often times, her clients have difficulty making, keeping and communicating what occurred during their appointments with other service providers.

Erin is very dedicated to her clients; they rely on her to help navigate their lives. Many of them work with a variety of providers, such as probation, Veterans Affairs, Drug Court, Department of Children and Families, and Medically Assisted Treatment. Erin has good lines of communication with the providers and clients. Her clients respect her and rely on her for advice and guidance. 

Erin works with the veterans to help them become more self-sufficient so when they leave the program, they are able to function at a higher level than when they first arrived. Part of that is helping them with employment and getting their physical and mental health needs addressed. She sometimes will attend medical appointments, if necessary, to ensure that the client understands what is happening with their care. When her clients are involved with DCF, she communicates with their case manager to provide a clear understanding of what is expected of their clients and many times helps the client navigate the child welfare system.

She also handles the daily operations of writing contracts, service plans, and administering urine analyses and medications. She also is on a weekly community calls where she updates community veteran service providers on the status of some of her clients, as well as house meetings with veterans to ensure that they are living in a safe and sanitary environment.  

Erin does a great job with these men who are often at rock bottom when they get to the program. During her time working with them she helps to build them up to becoming contributing members of society in a different way from the sacrifices they have made during their service.

Many of her clients have never had someone in their life that cares so much, but luckily for them, they have that person now. 

– Layla, Case Manager, Family Services

Intake Specialist - Susan

On the day I shadowed Susan I met her in her office to complete an intake. Susan was very polite, respectful, and very resourceful! Any questions that the client had about resources within Harvest House or the community she knew about which showed the client how much of an asset it is to be working with Susan. 

Susan gave me a tour of the campus units and explained how the campus was set up. We went over her day-to-day and we both found out about what our jobs had in common and where they differed. I learned that Susan is the main point of contact for anyone who comes through the campus which includes men and woman who are struggling with addiction, Veterans, and PRP clients. Some are court ordered to come to Harvest House and some come on their own. Susan gets the client set up in the programs, settled into their new living space and works with the clients daily to help them start down their new path with Harvest House. She makes herself readily available to help all her clients even when they move onto their long-term case managers.

Not only did I get to witness some of what Susan does each day and see how amazingly organized she is, but I got to learn more about her as a person. She is a mother of three children, and she has an awesome personality as we got to share a few laughs together. She loves the beach, as you can see by the beach signs and flamingos on her wall. She moved down to Manatee County from Ohio a couple years ago and is now trying to get the rest of her family to join her. Also, she has worked in this field prior to working at Harvest House! 

I had a wonderful time getting to know Susan and learning more about the other programs we provide at Harvest House. Susan is very hard working and compassionate in what she does at Harvest House with her clients! Keep up the great work Susan you are awesome!

– Dawn, Intake Specialist (Families)

Women's Residential Manager - Jessica

Jessica gave me a tour of the women’s residential recover property. (By the way, the new kitchen and bathrooms that Pat updated are beautiful!) Jessica explained how hands-on she is with the women clients, including being an extra support person in addition to their assigned case manager, and a “house mom” that stays on top of the clients cleaning their and shared living areas. She is also a key player in making connections with other agencies and landlords in the community.

I love the “chore chart” she has hanging on each bedroom door in a plastic cover so she is able to make notes regarding inspections and can easily erase and update without wasting paper. Dawn and I have discussed implementing this in the emergency shelter to update the families chore chart without wasting paper. Jessica explained how she assists the women with getting access too services including MCR for medication if needed, and sending referrals to the Women’s Resource Center for counseling, clothing, and the many other services they offer. She has a good rapport with Suncoast Technical College to assist the women going back to school to obtain a better education and improve their employment situation. She also makes key connections with landlords in the community to help graduates secure housing quickly.

Jessica provides “sober fun” for the women in the program by taking them on outings such as paintball, skating, holiday events, and much more. She is getting ready to start some other special projects such as landscaping the outside of the property.

Just from the time I met with her today, I was able to see the passion she has to help women change for the better by speaking life into them so they recognize their worth. I had a great time hanging out with Jessica as we have never really gotten to know each other before this. I have a better understanding of the process at Esther’s and what her specific job functions entail. YOU ROCK, JESSICA! 

– Jordan, Family Services Manager

Men's Residential Manager - Tucker

I had the pleasure of being paired up with Tucker for this assignment and it was true a pleasure. While the scheduling aspects proved to be tricky, we were committed to sitting down to learn a little bit more about what we both bring to our positions here at Harvest House. We were able to meet this morning and when I tell you timing is everything, it was everything!

We were planning to meet at 9:30am, just before my case conference call that he was going to sit in on. Tucker called me just before 9am and said, “I’m here now, you gotta catch me when you can.” I said, “yes sir I’ll be right in.” I had been sitting in my car, taking a moment to reflect on the day – September 11th. I have quietly cried each year on this anniversary, like so many Americans. I walked in, visibly upset with tears still in my eyes. I apologized and told him how this day 19 years later still seems like yesterday. I explained how I lived in Manhattan’s East Village and was a student in lower Manhattan at BMCC at the time. I was at the World Trade Center subway stop Monday – Thursday for school. I was there the day before 9/11, just before 9 am. In his most genuine nature, Tucker said, “Would you like us to take a moment of silence and pray?” I said, “yes, of course. That would be nice.”

From there, we chatted about how we go about connecting with clients. I explained what the case conference call was and how we engage with the young adults at the drop-in center. We discussed the struggles of ‘getting things done’ in the midst of the pandemic.

He explained his process of getting the guys up and out to work, getting their P-cards, and the expectations he has of each client. He talked about House Meetings and cook-off challenges between clients to encourage them to cook! I asked him how he goes about trying to engage with clients who are clearly not wanting to. He mentioned he found a fairly lighthearted way to connect via Christian Rap!!

As we were talking, we both noticed a young lady walking up to the drop-in center. I said to him, that’s one of my clients. Since she didn’t have an appointment, I couldn’t tell if something was wrong. When I asked, she said “I just wanted to come by and see if you were here to say ‘good morning’.” I’m not sure, but I think she just needed to be around someone, and it was perfect timing. Tucker and I picked up the conversation as she sat with us. The client was also able to hear some great life advice and stories from Tucker, and it was truly the perfect time for her to hear it. As we were wrapping up, Tucker asked the client if he could pray with her. She was happy to do so. 

Sometimes, things just happen when they are supposed to. We may not have checked every box on the assignment, but personally, I believe we all were meant to spend the morning together exactly this way. Had we planned it that way, it probably wouldn’t have worked out the way it did. 

– Dayna, Youth Services Manager

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