A Safe Time: Heather Hagberg, Life Coach Assistant/Children’s Ministry Coach

As a Life Coach Assistant and Children’s Ministry Coach, Heather is certainly a people-person. But she didn’t always know how much she wanted to work with people.

From Zoo Science to Life Coach

For a long time Heather saw herself working with animals, and even got her degree in in Animal Biotechnology and Conservation. She started working part time at the National Zoo, but kept finding that despite her qualifications, she couldn’t move-up.

Heather began to realize that God had other plans for her outside the field of zoology. She looked around and realized in her spare time she was babysitting, teaching at summer camps and Sunday schools, until she suddenly realized…“I’m passionate about working with kids!”

Soon God opened the doors for her to begin working with Youth for Christ, and six years later when she knew it was time to move on, she discovered Water Street. This time Heather gets to work with women, kids and their moms. “It’s been a really cool blessing because I never knew Water Street existed…I never knew loving people could be a job.”

“It’s been a really cool blessing because I never knew Water Street existed…I never knew loving people could be a job.”

“Ms. Heather”

In her joint role as a Life Coach Assistant and Children’s Ministry Coach, Heather helps bridge the gap between our women and kids ministries. Since all the kids call her “Ms. Heather,” when she walks around campus, moms can’t help but call out, “Hey Ms. Heather,” too.

And just being able to be a part of these families’ lives is one of the things she loves most about her job. She teaches and ministers to children living at Water Street a few days a week, and then serves as a resource to women on campus the rest of time. To her, getting to spread joy throughout this community is a gift. “Feeling like I can be here just to put a smile on someone’s face or just to make someone’s life easier,” she says, “I love that!”

Through working with mothers and their children, Heather hopes that each person can look back on their time at Water Street, and instead of just remembering the trials that brought them here, they can also remember the safety and community they experienced.

Recently Heather got to see the fruit of all their hard work when she asked each of the kids to draw a house. One young boy said, “I’m gonna draw the mission!”

For him, Water Street was a safe place, and a place where he felt at home. “It was a beautiful thing to know that once he’s grown…he can look back and not be ashamed that he was here and be like ‘wow that was a really safe time in my life.”

“It was a beautiful thing to know that once he’s grown…he can look back and not be ashamed that he was here and be like ‘wow that was a really safe time in my life.”

 

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An Update from Jack 5/4/2020

12/17/2020

Dear Friends,

Throughout this season, we have encountered a number of challenges in operating our shelter safely. Thankfully we have been blessed to see no community spread among our guests. This is due not only to the work of our team, but also the ways that upgrades to our facilities came at just the right time.

For example, Providence Shelter, which opened in November 2019, provides additional spacing and a top-tier air filtration system. We have also been able to implement the same air filtration standards in our dining hall prior to the most recent wave of COVID.

Because a high percentage of our guests have preexisting health conditions, we have had to be diligent in our safety protocols, doing our best to ensure their safety. For us that has included implanting all CDC disinfecting, masking and social distancing from the very beginning. This has led to major changes in roles and responsibilities of staff. Staff have taken over disinfecting in shifts all over campus. They have also delivered much of our support services and programs through zoom, hosting counseling sessions and classes virtually and meeting in-person with plexi-glass dividers only when necessary.

For meals, we’ve changed preparation and delivery to help minimize interaction of guests who live in different facilities. At times that has meant delivering meals to certain Residential Floors so we can keep smaller groups in the dining hall. We have also had to restrict guests’ travel on and off campus to only essential trips such as going to work, the doctors, shopping etc., in order to minimize unnecessary exposure.

Another change in this season has been how we do intakes. Currently, the intake process requires new guests to be tested for COVID-19. They await their test results in a separate temporary shelter we have set up, before entering Providence Emergency Shelter.

All of these changes have been made while severely limiting the number of volunteers on campus. At one point, all volunteering was completely put on hold. Now, we are running with a third of our normal volunteers.

And it’s been tiring, for both staff and guests. We have had times where many staff were working remotely due to their own health risks. Other times where staff or guests have been quarantined due to exposures. But even with all of the schedule changes, increased overtime, and cross-shift working, our team has done an amazing job persevering through all of the challenges.

What to Expect This Winter Typically we have over 200 total guests on campus, over 100 in our Residential Programs over and 100 in our Emergency Shelters. Although our Residential capacity remains about the same, we have had to reduce the available beds in Providence Shelter to ensure safe spacing overnight from about 75 to 55.

Winter always presents its own challenges, so we anticipate this year will be no different. Women in our Providence Shelter have moved over to the shelter at St. Mary’s across the street, run by the Lancaster Food Hub. During their stay there they have full access to all of our services, including showers, food and staff support. Not only does having women shift to St. Mary’s enable us to free up additional beds for men, it will help us keep the shelter populations separate and limit the risk of spread.

Thank You We have been so encouraged by the support we have received this year. Without a community coming around us and our guests, we would not be able to keep our guests safe and continue to guide them in their restoration journeys. We truly couldn’t do what we do without you.

Jack Crowley

President