The Real Faces of NATH - Frederick Place
This month, as guest writer, I want to tell you a little about the “Real Faces of NATH” through my eyes. They are the heart and soul of Frederick Place. They are my teammates, my friends, my family. These ladies are the epitome of grace, compassion, strength, and love. They are amazing women that have busy lives, but still give more than a 100% to maintain and make Frederick Place somewhere that compassion, kindness, and dignity are felt on a daily basis.
We have three incredible ladies, Tammy M, Rebecca (Becca), and Susan, who have been with NATH - Frederick Place since the very beginning. They lovingly refer to themselves as “The 3 Musketeers.” They have weathered the storms and have put much of themselves into what makes Frederick Place so special. They each have specific roles and talents that contribute to the running and heart of the team. The ladies that round out the team are: Anna D, Anna Mae, Jamie, and I(Tammy D). These women are also women of grace, dignity, and compassion. Each one of us has a heart and compassion for helping those less fortunate. All are strong, courageous, resilient, calm, loving, and strict, and have hearts made of gold. This is more than a job to all of us; it is a chance to reach out and give hope to those who need it most. It is a chance to be a part of the solution to an epidemic that is very much a part of our world, and it is our way to make a difference one life at a time.
When asked why they work at NATH - Frederick Place here are the answers I received:
I was led to help people and guide them as they struggle with the place that they are at. I wanted to be a part of giving people hope and showing them that they can achieve what they set out to do.
I have always known that I had a heart for the less fortunate. What drew me to NATH is the heart of this organization, the way they strive to be the hands and feet of Jesus. I want to be just that, the hands and feet of Jesus in a crazy world that all too often overlooks those in need. I have always wanted to make a difference in the lives of people, and at Frederick Place I feel like I’m doing just that.
I like helping people. It’s rewarding to be part of the helping make a difference, even if it is just for one person
The initial reason I choose to work at Frederick Place was for the income, but now I have learned to love the job because of the few that we are truly able to help get back on their feet and have a better life than what they had when they walked through our doors.
I like helping people. It’s rewarding to be part of the helping make a difference, even if it is just for one person.
Working for NATH has proven to be a way I can use all my skills and education. I am a social worker, an administrator, and a business woman. It is also a place I can truly say, "I make a difference!”
I love working at Frederick Place, for many reasons - mainly though, it provides an incredibly humbling experience and restores my faith in humanity daily. It is such a special opportunity to be able to step outside one’s self and play a role in supporting the community.
I’ve been at Frederick Place since the beginning. About two years in I received a job offer and was given a few days to think about it. It was a difficult decision. I did not want to leave my fellow musketeers, but it was a great opportunity. I decided to call and accept the position right after I was done receiving a routine medical test. During the test the ultrasound tech asked what I did at the shelter. As I spoke, I had an epiphany that altered my decision. If I wasn’t at Frederick Place there would be nobody there who completely “got” what the residents with addiction issues were going through. I’d seen some amazing transformations and could honestly admit that I went home every morning knowing I do make a difference. I also realized that working at Frederick Place played a huge part in my own recovery journey. I basically work in a place that could be an informal AA meeting every day. I also believe that to keep what I have I have to give it away to others and give it away I do.
Change is inevitable, especially around Frederick Place. People come and go. The days go by, but luckily the one thing that remains the same is the staff. They are the “Real Faces of NATH.” Each one has a special/unique gift they were given. This is what makes our team such an amazing wonder. We may be few in numbers, but we are big in heart and compassion. We all believe that we have been called to make a difference in the lives of others. We may be the first smile that some have seen in a very long time, or the first person that has taken more than a second to listen to what they have to say. We may be the first safe place that they have known in a very long time. Whatever the task, we meet it head on every single day, because we know we are all here for a purpose bigger than ourselves.
We have been told that magic happens at Frederick Place, and honestly there is a special magic that happens here! It’s in the smiles and laughter that we often share over “inside” jokes. It’s the compassion and love that shines through each woman that calls Frederick Place work. It’s the feeling of being part of a team that wants to make the world a better place. We strive day in and day out to make Frederick Place feel like the home some may have never known or unfortunately will never know. We strive to give people hope and compassion in a world where sometimes that is in short supply. We are often asked how we know we make a difference.
There are many stories that each of us can tell and will willingly share with anyone who will listen. Some will tell you of past residents that make a meal for the house now that they are on their feet. Some will tell of how someone can now come back and volunteer at one of our events or as a volunteer at the house, or how former residents will stop and drop off items that they no longer in need so that someone else might have a little something special on their journey. Recently I was told that by being available to chat for a few minutes to let a person vent, that they were able to work through the desire to use again. To some, these things may be not significant, but these are moments that makes us know that what we do is making a difference, if even to just one person.
Many people do not realize what goes on behind the doors at Frederick Place. I want to share with you a little of what we do. We are called to wear many hats every time we show up for a shift. Some days are harder than others, but when we step through the doors of Frederick Place we become part of something that is so much bigger than all of us put together.
What being a part of the team at Frederick Place is:
- Being part of a family that strives to make Frederick Place feel like a home
- Being a cheerleader for those who hit significant milestones on their journeys
- Doing the paperwork that is needed to maintain licensing, funding, and grants
- Speaking at various groups around the area to spread the word on what we do
- Educating the public about homelessness in our community
- Doing intake paperwork, giving breathalyzers / drug tests
- Taking a moment to help a resident complete paperwork that they are having difficulties doing to obtain housing or to start a resume so they can find a job
- Being an ear that will listen to someone who is having a hard moment or who has had numerous nightmares
- Being a cook and making sure that there is a meal put on the table for those who live at Frederick Place
- Cleaning out a room and getting it ready for the next resident
- Putting together care packages for those residents who are moving into their own places
- Accepting and sorting the many donations that we receive
- Holding house meetings to ensure everyone is treated fairly and maintaining peace
- Being that person who just gives someone a positive quote to hold onto when they think they just can’t do what they need to do anymore
- Sometimes we are called to be friends, advisers, safety patrol, or wardens
- Sometimes we are called to make tough decisions; to ask people to leave when the safety of others is put at risk.
When NATH was conceived, a commitment was made to the community that we would be a safe place for those who were experiencing homelessness to come to. We would be a zero-tolerance facility for drugs, alcohol, and any violent behavior. We have done this since day one and will continue to do so well into the future. We have been taught by our leader that we are there to be a “hand up” not a hand out. Yes, we have rules, and yes, we must be strict. Sometimes that is not a very popular thing to be, but we do it for the safety and well being of every person who crosses our doorway.
I hope this helps you know a little more about the incredible people that staff Frederick Place. They put their hearts and souls into making this more than just a shelter for the homeless. They make this a home- a place of warmth and acceptance, a place where someone can take the steps to get back on their feet- a stepping stone to a better life. Next time you stop at Frederick Place for one reason or another, please be sure to say thank you to these amazing ladies. They are the true heart and soul and the true “Faces of NATH – Frederick Place.” Your kind words will be a small acknowledgement of the hard work that goes into running the shelter. It is my honor to be part of such an amazing team.