This blog, written by Katie Green, Assessment Coordinator at Westhab’s Coachman Family Center, is the fifth installment in our celebratory series: Leading through Change—40 years of Westhab.
In my role at the Coachman Family Center, I am often the first face that our clients see when they come to the shelter. They tell me about themselves, how they ended up at our doors, and the challenges they’re facing. I have the privilege of hearing their stories, and connecting them with the people and resources they need to move forward. In 2019, a young mother arrived at the Coachman Family Center. She met with me and, in tears, shared her shame and embarrassment at being back at the shelter for a second time. We cared for her and her children—as we do for anyone who comes to us—and it wasn’t long before she was back to living independently. A few months ago, I ran into this client. She was beaming as she told me about joining the military and buying a house. She expressed how grateful she was to all of the staff at the Coachman for caring for her and her children and for guiding her to where she is now. This is Westhab.
Unlike most members of Westhab’s staff, I arrived not as an employee, but first, as a client in need of help. I have a unique perspective of Westhab, having experienced the organization briefly as a client, and now, 20 years later, having spent more than two decades as a member of the Westhab team—serving those who arrive at our doors at their most vulnerable and guiding them on a path to stability, safety, and a life they can be proud of. I know better than anyone how special this organization is. Our staff understands that what makes the biggest difference for our clients is how we treat them—with respect, caring, and empathy. These qualities are hard to teach. Luckily, they seem to be ingrained in every person that works at Westhab. We understand that our clients are human beings who deserve to be treated like any of us would want to be treated—as I was treated all those years ago when I was the one in need of a helping hand.
From my initial work in childcare and employment services to my current role as an assessment coordinator, I’ve worn many hats at Westhab. I love the work that I do. Social work is my passion—it’s what I’m on this earth to do. Some of our clients go through so much, and they have nothing. When I meet with a client and they have no one to turn to, no one to call, it breaks my heart. But that’s when we have to step up and show up for them with everything we have. The people we help are human beings—people with feelings, ideas, thoughts, and dreams. It’s our job to help them navigate this moment in their lives and empower them to make it to the other side stronger. That’s what social workers did for me, and it’s why I became one.
For 40 years, Westhab has been there for people in their darkest moments, reaching out a helping hand. For over 20 years, I’ve been part of that impact, and besides my six amazing children and 19 perfect grandchildren, it’s what I’m most proud of in my life.