Where You Live Matters
MISSION Operation Pathways provides and coordinates place-based programs and services for residents in affordable housing communities to increase quality of life. VISION Vibrant housing communities where residents are engaged, empowered, and supported to live to their fullest potential.
The Operation Pathways’ community centers, located within our properties, provide a safe environment for residents to meet and develop relationships—building a greater sense of community. We want our neighbors and friends to see that we are committed to strengthening our communities as we focus on educational, health and wellness, and financial well-being programs. Through our impactful, innovative, and holistic services, we create opportunities for families to increase their self-sufficiency. Building on the generosity of your contributions and the commitment of our resident services coordinators, communities across the country are being restored and invigorated. Thank you for your invaluable help in making this possible.
About Operation Pathways Operation Pathways, a subsidiary of The NHP Foundation, transforms affordable housing communities through customized onsite programs and coaching where residents partner with service practitioners to gain skills, overcome obstacles, achieve goals and live well. Operation Pathways is a CORES-certified resident services provider and was the first resident services provider in the country to receive this distinction. CORES certification is awarded to affordable housing service providers based on the strength and quality of their infrastructure, systems, programs, and outcomes. Operation Pathways operates in 12 states and the District of Columbia, accompanying hundreds of residents every year on their journeys to a better life. Because where you live matters and how you live matters more. About The NHP Foundation Headquartered in New York City with offices in Washington, DC, and Chicago, IL, The NHP Foundation (NHPF) was launched on January 30, 1989, as a publicly supported 501(c)(3) not-for-profit real estate corporation. NHPF is dedicated to preserving and creating sustainable, service-enriched multifamily housing that is both affordable to low and moderate income families and seniors, and beneficial to their communities. Through Family-Centered Coaching, NHPF’s subsidiary Operation Pathways engages with, and assists, families experiencing poverty and other hardship, to problem-solve together. Through partnerships with major financial institutions, the public sector, faith-based initiatives, and other not-for-profit organizations, NHPF has 56 properties, including approximately 10,000 units, in 15 states and the District of Columbia.
Letter from Ken White
Before all other forms of media and communication were invented, humans connected to one another through telling stories. Indeed it’s through storytelling that we come to know one another and understand our world through someone else’s senses, life experiences and cultures. Through other people’s stories, we also become aware of the limitations of our own worldviews, and hopefully expand our minds with each new perspective. Operation Pathways offers residents living in affordable housing communities opportunities to increase their quality of life. Our resident services coordinators connect our residents with programs and services to build their strengths and meet their needs. Each day, we meet our residents where they are and together we assess and determine the next steps towards their goals. Overcoming the obstacles that lie in the pathway leading to these goals are the stories found herein. I am grateful to have read the stories presented in this booklet, and excited to share them with you. Through these wonderful accounts of perseverance, determination, and good fortune, may you all be inspired to meet your own adversities face-to-face and work toward building happier and healthier lives for yourselves, your families, and your communities. And then when you’ve overcome your own hardship, make sure that you tell someone your story.
KENNETH D. WHITE
Ken White Vice President, Operation Pathways
RSC Andrea Richard Launches Young Women’s Wellness Program Anacostia Gardens & Benning Heights, Washington, DC
Andrea Richard, the RSC at both Anacostia Gardens and Benning Heights, had a brainstorm. As she got better acquainted with the preteen girls living in both communities, Andrea sensed a need to provide a gathering place where the young women could receive education and engage in meaningful conversation on topics like personal empowerment, body awareness, and self care. Andrea reached out to a few companies in the progressive feminine hygiene space including Aunt Flow, Saalt, and Lhamo Organic pads. All three responded with project funding and sample products. Thus, the Red Tent Gathering was launched. Andrea describes Red Tent as a “community where we provide education for pre- adolescent girls, teenagers, and women.” The
program offers space for sharing, creativity outlets, parenting classes, expectant mom support, and rites of passages for our young women. Andrea adds, “I feel like we had a good turnout and look forward to growing this program at both Anacostia Gardens and Benning Heights in 2023.” The need to provide education, agency, and bodily awareness for the young women of our communities is great and this program is impactful because it connects, educates, and encourages the younger population onsite, including expectant mothers. This rewarding work benefits all the residents of both properties.
Where you live matters.
Restoring Irma’s Benefits Plaza Borinquen Apartments, Bronx, New York
In late summer of 2022, Irma Sandel, a resident at Plaza Borinquen, called RSC Karina Molina in some distress. Irma had just come home from the hospital following a double leg amputation. She was upset and crying on the phone because all her benefits had been discontinued while she was in the hospital—her SNAP, SSI, and Medicaid were all cancelled. The next day Karina immediately conducted an in-home visit with Irma. The two spoke about Irma’s health troubles which had led to the surgeries and eventual amputation. The conversation left Irma distraught so Karina provided compassion and comfort, letting her know that everything would be alright. During the home visit, Irma asked Karina if she could assist with reinstating her services. Karina leapt into action, happy to take the lead with outreach so Irma could concentrate on healing. In addition to the recent health troubles, Irma also deals with diabetes, high blood pressure, and a host of other health issues, treatment of which is dependent upon Medicaid. With her Medicaid benefits in limbo, Irma would not be able to pay for the important medications that Medicare covered. Later that same week, with a signed consent document from Irma, Karina began to reach out to the benefit providers. She also contacted Lincoln Hospital where the surgery took place and the nursing rehab home where Irma moved after the surgery. Additionally, Karina called the Social Security Administration and the New York City Human Resources Agency. Although progress was slow, Karina’s dogged determination never flagged as she kept Irma informed and continued to meet other needs for her. Finally, in November, Karina was able to have Irma’s full benefits restored—her SNAP, SSI, and Medicaid. Irma was so relieved and grateful for the on-site support she received enabling her services to be restored without having to leaving her home. Karina was happy to be able to help and be a part of a story with a happy ending—restoring all of Irma’s benefits.
Where Irma Sandel lives matters.
Ashley Uses Family-Centered Coaching Principles to Achieve Major Goal Bayview Towers, Stamford, Connecticut
Ashley Adonis, a resident at Bayview Towers, met his Family- Centered Coaching goal in 2022 and we applaud him. Ashley worked with Tsani, an RSC at the property via Operation Pathways’ much-lauded Family-Centered Coaching model developed by The Prosperity Agenda with the support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation works to meet the interconnected needs and desires of a participant’s life while working to dismantle educational disparities, underemployment, health care, financial literacy, food access, neighborhood safety, and more. Ashley, a high school student, began his journey with Tsani when he applied for Operation Pathways’ affordable housing Summer Internship Program in the summer of 2022. The program offers four internships to teenagers and young adults in our communities: Affordable Housing Internship, Property Management Internship, Professional Communications Virtual Internship, and a Makerspace Internship (Bayview Towers). 91% of participants believe they are better prepared to achieve their future educational, career, and personal goals because of the Internship Program. In addition to gaining work experience, interns partner with a coach to help develop their professional and financial skills. Program offerings included personal finance, career planning, resume writing, and interviewing skills classes. Because Ashley’s grades had dropped during the previous semester, Ashley’s mom would not allow him to accept the job since she was worried he would not get into college. So, although Ashley didn’t become an intern at that time, he did work with Tsani to set a goal to get accepted to college. Together, using Family-Centered Coaching principles, they devised a plan to make it happen. After attending summer tutoring and making sure his first two semester grades were good,Ashley was accepted to the University of Connecticut.
Where Ashley Adonis lives matters.
Former Cleme Manor Resident Returns to Give Back Cleme Manor, Houston, Texas
Delores McGruder lived in Cleme Manor for twenty-five years and returned this past fall to bring joy and educational activities to current young residents and their parents. While she lived at Cleme Manor, Delores took advantage of financial literacy programs that taught her how to save and eventually helped her purchase a home of her own. She was more than a neighbor you could rely on for a cup of sugar—she befriended many of the residents and shared her support whenever she could. Even after she left Cleme Manor, Delores continued to look for more ways to give back to residents. This past fall she applied for and received a grant from the Urban Transformation organization to host four meetings at Cleme Manor where children and their parents could participate in educational, artistic and recreational activities. She also provided healthy snacks to the 122 youth and adults who participated. McGruder dubbed this effort the Mustard Seed Program, inspired by a conversation with an HPD officer who shared her vision of helping children in the community. A mustard seed is known to be one of the smaller seeds but grows into a large plant firmly rooted in the ground. The program was offered through Operation Pathways, The NHP Foundation’s subsidiary providing onsite resident services. In December, this culminated with a fun holiday party where Houston City Council Member Letitia Plummer came and provided meals and gifts to participants. The Council Member said, “Mustard Seed became part of the community; really doing great things with the kids. Delores McGruder is someone I respect highly.” Delores’s personal story is very inspiring. She came from humble beginnings and was left to fend for herself at an early age. Despite her circumstances, she completed her education and graduated third in her class from Houston’s Wheatly High School. She went on to earn degrees from Texas State University in psychology and sociology. Her heartfelt message to children, “Choose love and not hate and color doesn’t matter. You can achieve great things.”
Where Delores McGruder lives matters.
Cin’cere Huntley: A Hollander Ridge Summer Intern Story Hollander Ridge, Baltimore, Maryland
Cin’cere Huntley, a resident of Hollander Ridge in Baltimore, Maryland, took part in Operation Pathways’ Summer Internship Program. As part of the summer program students were asked to imagine a real estate project, with a budget, that they would want to design. Cin’cere’s vision for a social and cultural community center was borne out of her own research and lived experience which showed that in a city of over 700,000, Baltimore has only 44 recreation centers. Cin’cere’s research showed that low- income areas of Baltimore, suffering from years of structural racism and blight, were particularly lacking in safe places for people to gather but also had a surplus of abandoned buildings and vacant lots. This inspired Cin’cere to put her internship training to use in developing a proposal for a site. During her internship Cin’cere and her peers learned about property development, budgeting skills, profit and loss, and basic real estate knowledge. The vision for the Cin’cere Social and Cultural Community Centre included a swimming pool, gymnasium, kitchen and ballet center. The center would offer childcare and be a warm and welcoming space to bring the community together. Cin’cere delivered her presentation at the 6th Annual NHPF Symposium in Washington, DC to an audience of hundreds. Her heartfelt earnestness and sincerity moved many to tears.
The future looks bright for Cin’cere Huntley.
Remembering Ms. Beverly The Roundtree Residences, Washington, DC
Beverly Johnson served as Operation Pathways’ Resident Services Coordinator at The Roundtree Residences, in Washington, DC,
a variety of healthy living programming, including the delivery of over 4,000 meals and 2,700 bags of produce and groceries. These are just a few of Ms. Beverly’s many accomplishments. She showed up daily with a big smile, compassion, and a beautiful spirit that could brighten anyone’s day. The twelfth of thirteen children Ms. Beverly was a staunch believer in education, holding both a BA in Business Management from Southeastern University and later a Master’s in Leadership and Management from Webster University. Much of Ms. Beverly’s career was dedicated to motivating others to further their education as well as seek positions of community service. She volunteered continuously for the Black Caucus and also worked for the Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. Not only did she inspire others through her work and mentorship, she may be best remembered as a fashionista. Even in her 70s Ms. Beverly’s sense of fashion was simply unmatched and spoke for itself. She had her own style and swag that was both timeless and trendy. This exuberant, unforgettable leader is survived by her husband, Vincent Lamont Odoms; sons, James Darryl Williams and Darrion Vincent Shannon; and five grandchildren. On behalf of everyone at Operation Pathways, we love you Ms. Beverly, and miss you dearly.
for five and a half years. During her
years of service to our organization, and her lifetime of service to her community, Beverly was
known for her positive energy, supportive presence, and most importantly, her love for her work, her community, and her Operation Pathways family. Ms. Beverly, as she was fondly known, passed away in her sleep on December 9, 2021. To honor Ms. Beverly’s contribution to our work, Operation Pathways created an award in her name. The Beverly Johnson RSC Spirit Award, will be presented by Operation Pathways annually to an RSC who best exemplify the qualities of Support, Positive Energy, and Love. Ms. Beverly so clearly exemplified the qualities this award honors. During her tenure as the RSC at Roundtree, Ms. Beverly led with love. She always took time to reach out to those she knew and never hesitated to express her love and care for others particularly through her work at Roundtree, engaging with nearly every resident at the property. She coordinated many senior field trips and resident appreciation events, registered 106 members in her community to vote, and coordinated
Leshada Stewart The Strand Residences, Washington, DC
This quarter, Leshada Stewart moved into her beautiful new apartment in the Strand Residences in Washington, DC. Leshada is a single mother with a 6-month old baby who had been waiting for this moment for almost a year; she thought, at times, it might never happen. When she entered the new unit, she was overjoyed, jumping and running around saying “This is great and thank you, God.” A very great moment, indeed. In addition to the 86 units, the Strand Residences feature a large multi-purpose room, exercise room, and on-site resident services provided by NHPF’s subsidiary, Operation Pathways. The first floor includes retail space for a neighborhood non- profit and a community-based retailer. The Residences include 71 one-bedroom apartments and 15 two-bedroom units. The 28 LRSP units will be rented to residents who earn less than 30% AMI and will be reserved for residents relocating from the nearby Lincoln Heights and Richardson Dwellings properties.
Where Leshada Stewart lives matters.
A Holiday Story Plaza Borinquen Apartments, Bronx, New York
In the Puerto Rican culture, the holiday season is ingrained in the populace form the day one is born, enriching all with values, traditions and the history of the island and its people. All of the residents at Plaza Borinquen are from Puerto Rico and enjoy Christmas time, which is a nonstop celebration until mid-January. Christmas celebrations in Puerto Rico begin very late in November and do not stop on December 25th. The biggest holiday dates are December 24—Nochebuena/Good Night-Christmas Eve; December 25—Navidad/Christmas; December 31—Despedida de Año/New Year’s Eve; and the biggest and most important of all for the children, el Día de Los Reyes Margos/Three Kings Day—Epiphany on January 6. The pandemic has hit many of the residents hard; for some losing loved ones they couldn’t say goodbye to back home. One resident, Pablo Diaz (right) and the Superintendent, Carlos Miranda (left) wanted to bring a piece of home and holiday cheer to the residents. After all, Puerto Ricans are known for their unforgettable get-togethers which include food and music. Everyone here has that Uncle, Grandfather, or Father on the congas, or guitar with everyone singing old Christmas songs like Feliz Navidad and Silent Night—Merry Christmas and Noche de Paz. Pablo and Carlos brought the islands home to the community of Plaza Borinquen, for those who couldn’t travel due to pandemic restrictions. The holiday tree that Pablo bought also brought camaraderie to the residents who were able to see their neighbors and spend time with them. To the residents here at Plaza Borinquen, it is a tree of hope and new beginnings.
Where Pablo Diaz lives matters.
Ms. Sara’s Journey Columbia Heights Village Apartments, Washington, DC
Ms. Sara, a resident of Columbia Heights Village Apartments in Washington, DC, had been out of work due to COVID-19. She had previously been employed as a home health aide. Soon, Ms. Sara had to grapple with the lack of income and major food insecurities. However, Ms. Sara knew how to use the resident services provided at Columbia Heights Village by Operation Pathways, a subsidiary of NHPF. She was one of the first residents to avail themselves of the coaching provided by onsite Resident Services Coordinator Terri West. Terri and Ms. Sara worked together on weekly food deliveries, going back to school for ESL (to gain more fluency in English) and job searches. Ms. Sara participated in the learning program NHPF offers via free tablets provided by the organization and was coached on different ways to use the tablet to gain the most benefit. In 2021, Ms. Sara and Terri again combined forces to help continue and expand her job search by applying for several different opportunities. She finally found part-time employment with CVS as a pharmacist, where she is currently employed. Ms. Sara is happy to report that her new job is also just two blocks from her residence enabling her to save money on transportation. What a great way to start the new year.
Where Ms. Sara lives matters.
Plaza Borinquen & The NYPD Plaza Borinquen Apartments, Bronx, New York
encouraged her to call him if she needed anything. Migdalia was so thankful for that interaction that she introduced her neighbor, Christine Leon, to Officer Henriquez and Officer Lawrence Chan. The women spoke with both officers, and voiced concerns about the uptick in shootings and drug use in the community. Both officers let the women know that they were there to keep the residents and the community safe. Christine stated that this was the first time she felt good knowing that “La Placita” (‘La Placita” translates to “The Plaza” and is the nickname that residents have given Plaza Borinquen) has “her own cops.” They also call Plaza Borinquen, Little Puerto Rico. This interaction was a huge milestone for many of the residents who have lived in Plaza Borinquen since it was constructed, often for 20 or more years. For everyone at Operation Pathways and NHPF, we are grateful to Karina (pictured here between Officer Henriquez and Officer Chan) for helping forge this partnership that demonstrates a positive interaction between residents and the NYPD. NHPF and Operation Pathways help manage and cultivate these relationships on our properties. While for many years we have supported community policing as a deterrent to crime, we have taken a more proactive approach to creating opportunities for police and our residents to have non-threatening and peaceful interactions through our programming. We view this as an important part of our work in social justice and increasing the quality of life in our housing communities.
Migdalia Aviles, a Spanish-speaking resident of the NHPF property, Plaza Borinquen in New York City, lives with her two granddaughters. Her husband passed away a year ago and soon Midgalia found herself uneasy. She was thrilled when Plaza Borinquen’s Resident Services Coordinator (RSC) Karina Molina arranged for Officer Randy Henriquez to meet with her and discuss her concerns. Migdalia was so grateful for the officer’s visit and appreciated the time he spent with her, made all the more enjoyable and satisfying since Officer Henriquez is Hispanic and they could converse in Spanish. Migdalia expressed her concerns about safety in the neighborhood, living alone with her two grandchildren since her husband’s death. Officer Henriquez gave her his business card and
Where Migdalia Aviles lives matters.
The Early Learning Readiness Program (ELRP) Calvin Mowbray Park & Stephen Camper Park
snack area, listening, puzzles, and blocks. At the conclusion of the program day, YMCA staff provides caregivers with tools and support to build upon the lessons when they are at home. This program provides a learning-enriched environment for some of the county’s most underserved children and their caregivers. The expectation is that this program will improve equity among OP resident children within the county, helping to level the playing field through the reduction of the learning and achievement gaps in these participating families. Outcomes for this initiative should be measurable academic growth at the end of the program, as seen in key school readiness skills like numbers, letters, color recognition, social skills, name recognition, and response to verbal cues. “100% of the children and caregivers that consistently participate in our Early Learning Readiness program experience growth by the end of the program. Participants typically average a 25% rise in key school readiness skills like numbers, color recognition, social skills, name recognition and response to verbal cues.” —Jenifer Lehn, YMCA Coordinator “The Early Learning program is an essential part of child and parent development, beginning the learning process in a structured school setting. We believe this program will build a foundation that will prepare students for school.” —Jymil Thompson, John & Janice Foundation (J2W) “The program offers a great forum for my little girl to meet, play and learn with other kids. It will really help her learn and practice how to share with her peers since she is not very good at that yet.” —Guardian to a three-year-old participant
The Early Learning Readiness Program (ELRP) at the Operation Pathways community center at the Calvin Mowbray and Stephen Camper Park Community in Cambridge, Maryland is a partnership between Operation Pathways, The John and Janice Wyatt (J2W) Foundation, and the Robbins Family YMCA. This multi-year program is designed to combat the achievement gap that economically disadvantaged youth from birth to age five experience. The YMCA of Chesapeake facilitates the program. YMCA staff work with program participants for two hours, each Monday and Wednesday morning throughout the school year for 36 weeks, starting with a soft launch from March to May 2021. A lead teacher guides the children and their caregivers through daily activities and circle time. YMCA staff support participants through 13 activity centers designed to develop key school readiness skills, such as math, science, art, music, gross motor skills, manipulatives, dramatic play, reading, infant center,
Where you live matters.
Marshalling Resources Forest Park, New Orleans, Louisiana
Mr. Marshall is a senior community member at Forest Park, on a fixed income. Since COVID-19 has restricted him to isolating at home, he was unable to visit his family in the summer months when he would have turned off his AC and saved on his energy bill. Instead, in September 2020 Mr. Marshall found himself $400 behind on his utility bill. He contacted the community center to see if they could help since he wanted to avoid falling any further into debt. Mr. Marshall worked with the community coach to obtain assistance with his energy bills. He obtained and completed the paperwork necessary to assist him with his bills which he was able to take to Total Community Action; an agency who processes the applications and awards the assistance. In mid-October of 2020, Mr. Marshall received two letters in the mail from Total Community Action, one stating that his balance was paid in full and is back to $0. The second letter stated he had received a credit of $400 that he is able to use over the next six months to help him stay up to date with his energy bill and relieve the stress caused by worries of eviction.
Where Mr. Marshall lives matters.
Mr. Charles Forest Park, New Orleans, Louisiana
All through the year of COVID-19, Mr. Charles has found ways to give back to his community at Forest Park. During the 2020 election, Mr. Charles used his own car to take neighbors who did not have transportation to the polls. In total, he chauffeured 18 community members throughout early voting days all the way to Election Day. Community members self-reported that if it hadn’t been for the kindness and generosity exhibited by Mr. Charles, they probably would not have voted this year. Enabling them to get to the polls enabled residents to have their voices heard in this important election. Mr. Charles continued to demonstrate community involvement and caring by volunteering to be resident Santa this holiday season. Though children were not able to take a picture directly with Santa, Mr. and Mrs. Claus were present to wave, offer air high-fives, and have masked conversations with the children. This small gesture brought special holiday cheer and a sense of normalcy to the Forest Park community. Through these actions, Mr. Charles showed that no matter your age or economic status, community members can rise to community leaders.
Where Mr. Charles lives matters.
Patricia Staten The Roundtree Residences, Washington, DC
The Executive Director of Operation Pathways, Ken White, often remarks that one of the greatest challenges during this time of the pandemic at our properties is the need for residents to be connected to the internet. This issue has affected every age demographic from school-aged children attending classes online, to unemployed adults looking for work and applying for benefits, to seniors shut in and suffering from social isolation. Through a grant from DC Housing Finance Agency, we were able to purchase tablets and provide 1-year of high-speed internet access to 100 of our neediest residents in DC. Our on- site resident services coordinators have supplied them with instructions and resources to help them use their new tablets to fit their needs. Mrs. Staten, a resident at The Roundtree Residences, had been using an old flip phone to communicate with friends and family during the pandemic, many of whom live far away. When Mrs. Staten received her new tablet, the RSC helped her make a video call to her daughter in California, and she got to meet her newest grandchild, Gigi, and the joy was palpable!
Where Mrs. Staten lives matters.
A Cleme Manor Resident Story * Cleme Manor, Houston, Texas
As a new resident services coordinator at Cleme Manor, Adrianna Ramirez organized a “meet and greet” event to introduce herself to residents. It was there that she first met Jenny*, a young mother and resident of Cleme Manor. Jenny approached Adrianna because she read in the newsletter that Adrianna had been a teacher and Jenny had some questions about the quality of her son’s school. After the event, Jenny would stop by Adrianna’s office from time to time just to chat, mostly about her son’s education. After some time however, Jenny began sharing more about her own life, her struggles, and her goals. Over the course of a few months, Adrianna learned that Jenny had gone to school to be a funeral director but never took the certification exams due to a variety of life complications. She also learned that in addition to her son, Jenny had two other babies. One was adopted and being raised by Jenny’s mother, with whom she has a strained relationship, and her other baby tragically died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). In addition, Jenny had been in a serious car crash and most recently escaped from an abusive relationship. It was clear to Adrianna that Jenny felt lost, confused, and completely overwhelmed with the circumstances of her life. Adrianna used her training in Operation Pathways’ Family Centered Coaching to work with Jenny. First, Adrianna helped Jenny see that she was doing just fine raising her son, and that she should redirect her attention to helping herself. Jenny told Adrianna that her goal was to finish her schooling and certifications for her career and Adrianna agreed to coach her towards that goal. Jenny needed to study for and pass the national board exam which is administered in two parts. Adrianna coached her in setting study schedules and creating work-spaces conducive to good study
habits. The payoff was significant as Jenny passed both sections of her exams on her first attempts. The final step was to complete her provisional licensure apprenticeship, which could only be accomplished by being employed with an accredited funeral company. Adrianna worked with her to prepare and apply for these positions. After months of coaching, studying, test-taking, applications, and interviews, Jenny walked into Adrianna’s office with good news: she got the job. Jenny is now working with a provisional license and will soon achieve her goal of being a funeral director. Family-Centered Coaching is a strengths-based approach to service delivery and works under the assumption that our residents can set and achieve their own goals. Adrianna believed in Jenny and recognized that she had everything within her to accomplish her goals, she just needed someone to remind her what she was capable of. Jenny’s new goal is to specialize in final arrangements for families who have lost babies. She understands first-hand what the special needs are for families during this time, and now she’ll use both her education and her life experiences to help others in crisis. Jenny recently applied to and was accepted to the Biology program at University of Houston and she is working on the financial details with Adrianna. In the meantime she works at a local funeral home and is now taking care of victims of the Covid-19 pandemic. For Jenny and others, affordable housing gives people in crisis the stability and capacity to take the next steps in rebuilding their lives. It is this foundation that allows Operation Pathways to meet residents where they are and walk with them on these difficult journeys.
Where Jenny lives matters.
* Since “Jenny” is a recent victim of domestic violence, we have changed her name for this story and we cannot provide a photo
Starlet & Family Forest Park, New Orleans, Louisiana
Starlet and her three children live at Forest Park in New Orleans, Louisiana. Two of her children attend Forest Park’s summer camps and Starlet often volunteers during community events. She reached out to her RSC Tiffany in March because she was frustrated because of difficulties she was experiencing receiving her SNAP benefits. Using Family-Centered coaching skills including asking powerful questions and reflective listening during a conversation, Tiffany worked with Starlet to complete her online SNAP application and receive the benefits due to her and her family. Soon Starlet was approved for $107 in benefits which seemed low for her household. By working together the two discovered that Starlet’s rent had gone up by $25, starting in April and she had not accounted for that or her car payment when filling out the application. Tiffany then encouraged Starlet to advocate for her family and call DCFS and see if there was anything she could do. The DCFS agent recommended she make changes on her application and noted in the system they would re-assess soon. Starlet and Tiffany worked as a team to update her application and she received notification shortly thereafter that her SNAP benefits increased to $386 for her family. Starlet is working to reach her financial stability goal, and is encouraged that she has met her urgent financial need of acquiring food and stable housing for her family. Since this goal has been met, Tiffany texted Starlet a Monthly Budget sheet for her to work from on her own. Tiffany and Starlet are now engaging in weekly financial coaching check-ins, to continue her financial stability journey. Starlet is always on time and pays her full rent amount monthly, so this month’s dip into her rent payment to pay for food for her family was a concern. However, her confirmed SNAP application and the amount she will now receive has assured her that she will be able to afford food for her family and continue to pay her rent in full each month.
Where Starlet and her three children live matters.
A “Positive” COVID-19 Story Edwin Berry Manor Apartments, Chicago, Illinois
With nonstop news reports surrounding COVID-19, anxiety and worry are everyone’s symptoms, especially those of seniors. Nicole Bridges, a Resident Services Coordinator (RSC) at Edwin Berry Manor in Chicago has made it her duty to perform wellness checks on all 60 residents in the complex. This past week Nicole had concerns that residents were suffering from lack of food, hand sanitizer, disinfectant, and other basic necessities. With that in mind, Nicole reached out to a close friend, Jahmal Cole, founder and CEO of Chicago’s fastest growing social impact organization, My Block, My Hood, My City a non-profit organization. Nicole reached out to Jahmal informing him about the seniors in need with whom she worked. With only very short notice he was able to do something special for the residents at Berry Manor. On the morning of March 17, 2020, Jahmal, several volunteers and camera crews from local NBC TV News came to Berry Manor to deliver care packages to the residents. The packages contained hand sanitizer, healthy supplements, canned goods, snacks, playing cards, and frozen pizza. The residents were very grateful to receive these items, as many of them have been unable to get to the store. The local news interviewed the residents and they were far from camera-shy and excited to see themselves on today’s news report! Seeing the smiles on their faces made Nicole and all involved beam with joy. As a precaution, Berry Manor has closed its community room and stopped all programs for the foreseeable future. To stem the inevitable boredom Nicole has instituted some remote programming. First, she rolled out a new service called “Telephone Topics”. It provides residents a way to connect with other people without leaving their home. The toll-free number offers a wide range of interesting discussions and programs ranging from wellness, education and music reviews, to live performances. The toll-free number is 888.600.2560. Just click here to learn more. Nicole is a shining example of ingenuity in trying times. We would love to hear more ingenious solutions to issues arising from the COVID-19 quarantine.
Where you live matters.
George The Mark Twain, Chicago, Illinois
George Banks has had his share of challenges in life. From a rough foster home upbringing, to living with undiagnosed mental illness and the uncertainty of where a next meal might come from, George has remained resilient and has overcome every challenge thrown his way. During the most tumultuous times George was able to rely on two constants in his life, his music (George is an accomplished guitarist and singer) and his home, The Mark Twain. George has lived at The Mark Twain in Chicago, Illinois for fifteen years. Even while experiencing mental health crises, he always knew he had a place to sleep at night and a friendly community of neighbors he knew well. When the Resident Services Coordinator began working at The Mark Twain, George came to her for help paying off his credit cards. Together, they came up with a budget for George to follow to slowly pay off this debt. Even when George did not meet his budget goals one month, the RSC supported him and George didn’t give up. In the end, George was able to pay off his cards and learn new budgeting tricks in order to prevent him from going into debt again. Since then, George has become a regular attendee at every workshop and coffee chat the RSC has hosted. Once The Mark Twain renovation was complete, George was overjoyed and relieved to move back after being away for one year and he loves his newly renovated unit. In the photo, George is seen taking part in the Ribbon Cutting event, welcoming residents back to the beautifully restored property. He was honored to have been asked to speak and his words of praise for his home were from the heart. Recently, George was feeling distressed because his normal therapist was on vacation and he could not see her. He went to speak to the RSC about his anxieties and together they figured out a plan to help him address them. The Mark Twain has been a constant in George’s life, through good times and bad. Now the onsite resident services provided by Operation Pathways are a constant as well, one that allows George to regularly access the support he needs to be able to thrive. Where George lives matters.
Patricia St. Luke’s Plaza in St. Louis, Missouri
coordinated the entire event. Ms. Littles found someone to decorate the community room, confirmed 10 “day-of” volunteers including two professional photographers, and she collected monetary donations in the amount of $800. Those funds allowed the two of us to purchase new toys for the children at St. Luke’s as well as household items that their parents were able to choose from. We were able to serve 29 families and 108 children. Below is a short interview I conducted with Ms. Littles. RSC: How was the planning and implementation of the event from your perspective? Pat Littles: I was very excited that you agreed to support this event. The planning and hustle and bustle that was required to pull the Winter Wonderland event off made me a little anxious yet extremely happy. RSC: How did you feel about the overall outcome of the Winter Wonderland? Pat Littles: I think the event went very well. The participants seemed happy and that really made my holiday. RSC: How has participating with RSC impacted you? Pat Littles: These experiences have impacted me tremendously and have made me feel more a part of the community. I speak to many neighbors, with whom I have shared a building for many years, yet never had a conversation. RSC: What made you decide you wanted to participate in RSC events? Pat Littles: You made me feel so welcomed. I watched you for several months and I saw your genuineness. Now I feel a part of what happens here,
I would like to take a moment to highlight St. Luke’s Plaza resident Ms. Patricia Littles. Ms. Littles has been a resident at St. Luke’s Plaza in St. Louis, Missouri for 18 years. Ms. Littles and I met in 2019. Owing to her long residency at the property, I asked her for some suggestions about Resident Services Coordinator (RSC) programming. She explained that she hadn’t had a chance to participate before so she couldn’t offer any insight or suggestions at that time. I invited her to participate and she said she would consider it. After a few more interactions between Ms. Littles and myself, she decided to attend an event. She first came to Bingo, then she began to attend workshops, and soon after she joined OPAC—the Operation Pathways Action Committee. Ms. Littles’ story is unique because, after years of little or no interest in program participation, she became instrumental to the success of our on- site resident holiday party! Upon joining OPAC, Ms. Littles asked if we could plan what she termed a “Winter Wonderland” event for the residents, I agreed and we started planning. Ms. Littles called upon her vast friend network and, in no time, she
and I am happy to participate. Where Patricia lives matters.
Khamari’s Story Forest Park, New Orleans, Louisiana
At Forest Park in New Orleans, Louisiana, the community global garden has done much more than bring fresh produce and herbs to families. For Khamari, who is in the 4th grade, it has become a positive outlet, leadership opportunity, and it has transformed reading into a fun activity. Khamari has struggled with reading in school and with controlling his emotions in a group setting. Over the last year, helping in the garden has become one of Khamari’s favorite things to do, and his behavior has greatly improved as a result. Due to his leadership and positive behavior, Khamari was recently awarded “Youth Garden Captain” status. Khamari practices his reading skills by reading the back of the seed packs to make sure that the seeds are planted correctly. He also enjoys reading all of the garden signs to the younger kids so they know what each plant is. His favorite thing to do is fill up the watering cans so participants can water the garden. When asked what he wants to be when he grows up, he responded, “if I don’t make it to the NBA, I would like to be a farmer so I can grow food for my family and give some away to people who are hungry.”
Where Khamari lives matters.
Andrew, Adrian, and Anderson
Perla enrolled her three sons, Andrew, Adrian, and Anderson, into the Operation Pathways Brighten-Up afterschool program. Recently, Perla contacted her resident services coordinator to express gratitude at how well her sons were doing. Perla told the resident services coordinator that since participating in the afterschool program, her sons were doing their chores, demonstrating better manners, and even helping her around the house. Perla said that she attended a parent- teacher conference and her sons’ teachers reported that all of them demonstrated improvement in the classroom, turning in assignments on time and frequently participating in classroom discussions. Perla gives credit to NHPF and Operation Pathways for making a positive change in her family’s life.
Where Andrew, Adrian, and Anderson live matters.
Randy Alexander House, Hagerstown, Maryland
Randy is a resident of Alexander House in Hagerstown, Maryland and participated in their first smoking cessation class in October 2016. The program was brought to Alexander House by Sandy, the resident services coordinator, and was sponsored by the Washington County Health Department. Randy attended each session and completed the eight-week program successfully. He has been a non-smoker ever since. Shortly after completing the program, Randy participated in the Operation Pathways’ America Saves Week program. During America Saves Week, residents are encouraged to make pledges to open savings accounts and make saving a habit. Randy opened a savings account with $25 and made a pledge to save the money that he had been spending on cigarettes. Recently, at an Alexander House community council meeting, Randy informed Sandy that he has $1,400 in his savings account and he continues to have automatic “cigarette payments” deposited from his paycheck.
Where Randy lives matters.
Recently, Pam, the resident services coordinator where Shalimar lives, saw Shalimar in the lobby of the building. Shalimar was a summer intern from 2015, and Pam hadn’t seen her in several months. Shalimar reported that she had been very busy working her full-time job, while attending college. She’s currently in a certificate program to become an interpreter, and plans to continue her education towards a bachelor’s degree in business management. Shalimar thanked Pam for introducing her to Operation Pathways and helping her manage her income, especially teaching her the importance of prioritizing her expenses. She is working hard every day, continuing her education, managing her expenses, modeling good fiscal behaviors to her family, mentoring her sister, and working towards her goals.
Where Shalimar lives matters.
Laura Forest Park, New Orleans, Louisiana
Laura has been a resident at Forest Park in New Orleans, Louisiana for a little over two years. She had been working at Wendy’s part-time but was unhappy due to the lack of hours. She saw the flyer for an upcoming job fair that Operation Pathways was promoting, and decided to participate to try out a mock interview and have a professional resume created. She even took home practice interview questions to do with her fiancé. To boost her confidence, Tiffany, the resident services coordinator, helped Laura with her interview the day of the job fair. Laura was hired on the spot at the job fair for a hostess position at a new restaurant. Though she is still making $7.25 per hour, there is room for promotion in this position. Laura gets more hours a week (thereby increasing her take-home pay) and says that she is happy with this job and enjoys the positive workplace.
Where Laura lives matters.
Leonard St. Luke’s Plaza, St. Louis, Missouri
Leonard is a resident at St. Luke’s Plaza in St. Louis, Missouri. He came to the Operation Pathways community center looking for help from Jean, the resident services coordinator. Leonard was struggling financially with a part- time job that paid poorly and didn’t offer any health insurance benefits. Jean worked with Leonard to design and draft a résumé and cover letter, and practice interview skills. Jean also helped Leonard find job opportunities, and soon he had submitted his résumé for several open positions. While he hoped that his job search would be a quick and easy process, it didn’t turn out that way. Leonard felt like giving up along the way, but Jean encouraged him. After six months, Leonard’s hard work paid off as he was offered a full-time position as a custodian—a position that offered better pay and health insurance benefits. “I’m really glad Jean was there to help and make it work,” Leonard said.
Where Leonard lives matters.
Alisson & Carol
Twins Alisson and Carol are second graders at Sheffield Elementary School, where only 58% of its students met state reading standards last year. Luckily, Alisson and Carol participate in the Operation Pathways Brighten-Up afterschool program. While they speak mostly Spanish at home, Alisson and Carol have excelled in English, thanks to the afterschool reading program. Carol improved her reading by one grade level, reaching fifth grade comprehension, and Alisson gained two grade levels, reaching seventh grade comprehension. While new immigrant families struggle to assimilate and simultaneously provide for their children’s basic needs, NHPF and Operation Pathways cooperate to ensure safety and stability in their affordable housing, granting them necessary skills to become successful, self-sufficient citizens. Alisson and Carol are certainly on that path.
Where Alisson and Carol live matters.
Kenicha is a single mother living with her daughter Mahila. After Mahila was born, Kenicha went back to work full-time and she began taking classes to earn her LPN. Her long-term career goal was to become a registered nurse, and she was accepted into an RN program to begin her studies. “Without rental assistance, I would not be able to continue my education. I would have to work three jobs just to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. I would never get to see my daughter. Having the onsite resources and support made it possible for me to work, go to school, and take care of my daughter. My next goal is to buy a house, which I already started saving for.”
Where Kenicha lives matters.
Gertrude The Mark Twain, Chicago, Illinois
Gertrude, a resident in one of our senior properties, told Linnea, the resident services coordinator at The Mark Twain in Chicago, that she needed help getting her identification back, as she had lost her wallet. Linnea helped Gertrude understand what documentation she needed to bring to the DMV and advocated on her behalf when her bank failed to provide her with the proper document. Unfortunately, when Gertrude went to the DMV, all documentation in hand, she was still rejected since she had lost her green card as well and was not able to prove residency. Gertrude felt like giving up but, thankfully, Linnea referred her to legal aid, who helped her fill out an application for a duplicate green card, and apply for financial assistance for the application fee. As she aged, Gertrude had a difficult time keeping track of paperwork and traveling to appointments by herself. Linnea identified a service to assist Gertrude with transportation. Gertrude told resident services that a huge weight had been lifted off of her, as she no longer had to face problems all alone and was grateful for the assistance.
Where Gertrude lives matters.
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