Outreach Grid is proud to partner with superheroes all across the country who work everyday in the fight to end homelessness! Our Superhero Spotlights shine a light on the work our partners do and how they empower their communities!
Today we’re highlighting super-partner, Rachel Amerson! Rachel is a Community Health Worker for JPS Care Connections, a street medicine team practicing in the Tarrant County area of Texas.
What is your secret origin story? How did you get into the field of ending homelessness?
I actually just kind of fell into it! I had been in school for a really long time because I had changed my major, trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I finally landed in health, getting my degree in Health Studies with an emphasis in Community Health. When I finished school, I was looking for a job and I found a position called Community Health Worker on Indeed. I thought, “that sounds a lot like what I studied,” so I applied and came in for an interview with the Care Connections team. During the interview, I found that I really liked everyone on the team and thought that work that they are doing is really cool, so when they offered me a job, I accepted it.
Tell us a little more about your organization.
The JPS Care Connections team provides health care services to people who live outside. Our work is so impactful because it Is literally about meeting people where they’re at, which really helps break down a lot of barriers. Many people who live outside are often unable to access services because they don’t want to leave their belongings or their pets, or they’re more focused on where they’re going to sleep at night or what they are going to eat. This makes it difficult for them to make appointments or come all the way across town for services. Bringing medicine to the streets helps open up access to care.
Also, a lot of what we do is more social than physical health care, like navigating people through services and educating people about services that are available. It’s about empowering people so that they can get the help they need.
What are your superpowers?
I think for our team, I would say finding people. We have clients say to us all the time, “I know you’ll find me!” at whatever camp site or location, so they feel like they can rely on us to follow up.
Can you tell us a story of how your team has helped someone lately?
We had one guy who had recently just gotten out of the hospital. His condition qualified him for home health care services, but because he was staying outside, the home care team was unable to reach him and provide those services to him. Our Care Connections team was able to go out and provide that care for him.
How does collaboration assist you in the fight to end homelessness?
Our team primarily focuses on the health care aspect, we don’t offer housing services. So the biggest way we collaborate is by connecting clients with our partners that can help get people into housing. Everything we do on the streets is a temporary fix, but getting them to a stable, permanent living situation is the top priority, and referring them to our partners through Outreach Grid helps with that.
What is the best part about teaming up with Outreach Grid?
For me it is really helpful because I am really bad with directions! Being able to have all the location information there on the computer where I can just click and get directions to camps and clients is really helpful!
And then to also be able to get that information to other people. Sometimes other team members or partners ask, “How can I get to this person?”, so to be able to easily relay who needs help and where are they is super helpful.
We all know our shared nemesis is homelessness, but what do you wish more people who work outside of this field knew about homelessness, it’s causes, and its lasting effects?
I know that people know this, but I want to remind people to put it into action — People experiencing homelessness are people. Their needs, their wants, their desires, and everything else are just as complex and meaningful and important as anyone else’s.
Who(or what) inspires you?
I would say my niece. Right now, she is 8-years old, so she’s soaking up all sorts of new information, and she’s at the stage where she wants to learn a lot and do a lot. She inspires me to do the right thing so that I can be a good influence.
She’s also very curious and always asking, “Why? Why? Why?”, so she encourages me to think critically about the things I do and why I do them.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The connections that I am able to make with people. People call sometimes just to check in, to let us know what’s going on in their lives, and how we make a difference.
What message would you like to give to someone who may currently be experiencing homelessness?
That there are people out there who really do care and are trying to make a difference.
If your team had an animal sidekick, what would it be?
We’ve always said that our mascot would be a honey badger!
If you could have any superpower what would it be and how would you use it to fight homelessness?
I’ve always said that if I had a super power that it would be flying because that would be really fun! With our team, we often say we should get drones, so that we could send them out to find locations and see if clients were there. Sometimes we waste time and resources going to locations only to find that people aren’t there anymore, so I could use my superpower to keep up with where people are at when we need to see them!
Do you have a superhero in your community that Outreach Grid should spotlight? Share their story with the Outreach Grid team at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Want to learn more about Outreach Grid and the tools we can provide to help empower your team? Sign up for a demo at outreachgrid.com today!