I grew up on a farm in Western Kentucky in a very self-sufficient lifestyle. We raised our own vegetables that we either canned or were frozen for future use. My Dad raised cattle and hogs and at least one of each of them was processed for our freezer. We were never “rich” in the material sense but the idea of not having a place to live or food to eat was totally alien to us. My parents taught us to share what we had with others who had less or needed something more than we did but to do it without calling attention to our actions or to the gift.
My first exposure to homelessness was in Carson City, Nevada, when I was volunteering at my granddaughter’s elementary school right before Thanksgiving. I was shocked to learn that a very large number of the children and their families were either living in vehicles or week-to-week hotels in the area. Most of these children did not have the basic necessities in their life that we all take for granted and it nearly broke my heart. But even then, I didn’t realize that agencies existed whose mission is to end homelessness.
I came to join the non-profit sector late in my career. My background is not social work or counseling but is in accounting. I spent almost 30 years in the corporate world learning everything anyone was willing to teach me and applying it to my job. The first ten years I spent doing coal production related accounting for strip mines and coal transportation companies located in Daviess County, Ky. The next fifteen years were spent in commercial real estate out of an office based in Houston TX with corporate offices in New York and property management offices in Chicago and Detroit. In addition to my accounting duties, I got hands on training for all things computer-related. This included implementation of software systems, hardware purchases and repairs, and making full use of specialized accounting software by designing custom financial reporting systems for the three offices that owned and managed properties . After I moved back to the family farm in Henderson, I worked for four years at a privately owned agribusiness company that went out of business leaving me unemployed.
Well, when you do the math you realize that I was at an awkward age to be seeking employment – too young (and too broke) to retire but too old (they did have the tact to say “over-experienced”) to be considered a prime candidate for many positions. But I believe God has a plan for us if we will only “let go and let him.” I interviewed with Aurora for a position that was part-time, and for the first time in a long time, I really wanted the available position. I felt that my experience with computers and budgeting and reporting would fill a need for them as well as for me. I worked two other part-time jobs until the position at Aurora became full-time in March 2012.
So while I have never had direct contact with or specifically helped a client, I do feel that I contribute to Aurora’s mission of helping prevent and end homelessness by preparing budgets and financials, processing grant claims, fixing older donated computers, upgrading software systems, and working at fundraisers. I hope that my support allows those that work directly with the homeless in our community to focus on their primary strengths of finding solutions for their clients.
Too many people don’t realize that homelessness could happen to them due to loss of employment or an unexpected illness or a death of a wage earner. Everyone should have the opportunity to have affordable and sustainable housing not just those who meet certain expectations or guidelines. If you are blessed with the love of family, the security of a home, and have your basic needs provided then please remember not to overlook the needs of those who are lacking these essentials.
Luanne serves at the Finance and Operations Manager at Aurora. She lives in Henderson, Kentucky with her two cats, Denny and Snickers. She enjoys spending time with her grandchildren and daughter who live in Nevada, as well as going to the movies and dinner with friends, reading and volunteering at the Brain Injury Adventure Camp in Henderson.