I have only worked at McNabb since July, but before that I served as a minister in churches for over 25 years. One thing I learned during that 25-year span is that everyone is a loved child of God. As a fellow loved child of God, I am called to care for these others who are also loved children of God. In my seven months of work at McNabb, I have come to see that the mission of McNabb echoes what I have learned over the past 25 years. McNabb’s mission of “improving the lives of the people we serve” requires the empathy of seeing others as people who matter, no matter their lot in life.
One of my roles at McNabb is working with the ITTS (Intentional Targeted Transitional Support) program. As the ITTS case manager, I go to local mental health facilities to sign up otherwise homeless patients for three months of free housing and medicine management at a halfway house. The purpose of ITTS is to provide this three-month “cushion” so the client might move themselves toward a better place mentally, physically and relationally. Most of the patients I see come from hard places in life, due to mental health issues and/or substance abuse issues. Usually these issues have been compounded by serious family dysfunction. All of these patients have faced situations in life that I cannot imagine. However, when I do intakes with these patients to make sure they qualify for ITTS funding, I discover that these folks are no different than me or you, even though their experiences have led them to very different places in life. Even though the McNabb Center is not a faith-based agency, its mission stresses the full humanity of everyone who crosses our paths in our work.
One of the great joys of my work is watching those who receive funding from the ITTS grant make a determined effort to bring greater stability and joy to their lives. I remember fondly one of my first patients, a young lady in her early 20’s, who received ITTS funding from McNabb. This young lady is now the house manager with one of the halfway houses in Knoxville. Another lady, whose path in life had been marked by mental health issues that were not addressed due to her dependence on substances to dull her pain, became a mentor to others who are traveling the same path that she has travelled. Through the lives of these two women, and many others who have received ITTS funding, I have witnessed and been humbled by the depth of patience, adaptability, and determination of these clients.
Another joy that I find in my work is watching fellow McNabb employees in their work. I rarely know the specific roles that these other folks play in the overall mission of McNabb, but every day I see so many of these McNabb workers engage with the public in respectful and compassionate ways. I see those who work at the front desk of the Adult Center deal with even the most frustrating and frustrated client with patience and kindness. I see my co-workers in the PATH (Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness) program work long and hard to try to get their clients into mental health treatment and stable housing. This is no easy feat due to the lack of sufficient affordable housing in our community. As I witness the lives of these fellow McNabb employees, I am very grateful to be a part of the McNabb family.