Serving Those Who Served

Initially I chose not shared my “news” of becoming part of the “employed” world again. Honestly I wasn’t sure how it was actually going to pan out (some of you may have been aware of this). After being in my position for a few months now, I am confident this is what I should be doing right at this point in my life. So here is my “announcement” for those of you wondering what I’m talking about.
If you know me, you know the Veteran community has been a part of my life now for some time (Brandon is an Army Vet). After we got married I became more involved in the Veteran and Veteran Caregiver community. This community quickly became a passion of mine. I currently volunteer with and am the Chicagoland Peer Group Leader for Operation Homefront’s Hearts of Valor and I spend time working with Brandon on his non profit The Rally Point Program – TRPP (both of these organizations clearly serve the Veteran and Veteran Caregiver communities.
Many of you may remember me sharing my #onesandwichatatime blogs about Joe (a homeless Veteran) who I used to make an extra lunch for every day while I was working at Chicago State. I made several posts about him and his story. Many of you (near and far) assisted with items that he was in need of. Little did I know this experience would help lead me to where I am now.
After lots of soul searching and several months working with a life coach and countless rejection letters because I was “overqualified” it started to become clear to me that I had to do something different. So after endless conversations with Brandon and other family members and the support of those closest to me, I decided to “jump” and take a leap of faith. I decided to follow my passion.
So here is the big announcement….
After more than I have officially left the field of Higher Education. After 24 years working in higher education and 15 tough months of being unemployed, I have accepted a position with Catholic Charities as a Case Manger for the SSVF (Supportive Services for Veteran Families) Program.
The SSVF program is a homeless prevention program that assists Veterans and their families from either becoming homeless or assists to house those veterans and their families who are currently homeless. Its an amazing program and I have already seen firsthand the success that Veterans who take part in the program can accomplish.
This position gives me an opportunity to get even deeper into a community that I was already passionate about. I am now aware of resources that I had no idea existed. I am able to share these resources with Caregivers not only here in IL, but also with Caregivers I am connected to throughout the United States. I am also uncovering resources that can assist Brandon’s non profit as well as he and I on a personal level.
So for those of you that have been wondering about me, that’s whats up! I honestly enjoy going to work every day. I work with great people – not only at Catholic Charities, but also at the local Veterans Assistance Commissions, Vet Centers and Hines VA hospital. I have amazing clients. I get to make a difference in my clients lives everyday. I am convinced that this is all part of a bigger plan. The work I do every day is much bigger than me but I couldn’t be more grateful to be a part of “it”.
My first client was a 44 yr old Desert Storm Vet. He was literally homeless – living on the streets and sleeping in a friends car when he needed shelter. Together we identified an apartment for him. The joy on his face when he signed the lease and got the keys to his apartment gave me a feeling that I honestly cant put into words. It took everything I had to hold back tears. I remember commenting to him after it was over that I thought I might be more excited than he was. I was so proud of him for everything that he had to do to get to that point. When we moved him in to the apartment, every thing he had was literally in a duffel bag. Together, by tapping other resources, we have pretty much furnished his apartment with the basics. Today I stopped by his apartment to drop off some household items that he was still in need of (including a microwave donated to me by my girlfriend Karilyn). He was visibly touched when he saw my car literally full of stuff for him. Christmas came early for him as I delivered a microwave, pots and pans, cooking utensils, a humidifier, a rack for his bathroom, a floor lamp and lots of other stuff that he really needed. He also let me know that he got a $3 an hour raise at his job and that there is a possibility another raise will happen again within the next few months. Then as I was leaving he looked at me and said “Courtney I know you didn’t have to do all this. This is not part of your job description. I don’t know where you came from or how you managed this, but you are truly my angel. I am truly grateful for you.”
The funny thing is, he was the second client that told me this week I was their angel. I had a third client that told me that in his 61 yrs on this earth, no one had ever gone to bat for him in the way that I had. I honestly didn’t think that I had done anything special – but he was extremely grateful for my help.
So there it is. I LOVE MY JOB!
I am blessed every day to have the honor of working with and serving those who have sacrificed and served to protect our country and all of us. I could not be happier.
Thank you to those of you who continuously encouraged and supported me! I am truly grateful for you!