How does it feel when you land a great job? What is it like to work with people whose charge in life is to help those who are in need? As I ponder the answer to these two questions, I can’t help but to think back to where I was less than two years ago. But before I talk about that, I’ll tell you a little about where I’m from.
I grew up the oldest of eight children in small town Mississippi and after graduating from high school, I attended college in St. Peter, Minnesota (can anyone say culture shock?). After two years, I left school and took a job with a theatre company working as an actress. I had been working for less than a year when my mother passed away and I was faced with the decision of returning home to help take care of my four younger sisters and brothers.
After a few months, my sisters, brothers, and I left Mississippi and moved to Evansville. You may be wondering why I chose Evansville, IN of all places, but that’s a slightly longer story for another time. Once here, I continued raising my siblings while starting my own little family. Chase, who is now 17, is beginning his college search, and Lasha, who is 15, is still mama’s little girl (just don’t tell her I said that). I also began working on finishing my education. I enrolled at the University of Southern Indiana, and I have almost completed my degree in Radio and Television Production.
Now for one my initial questions, how does it feel when you land a great job? Don’t get me wrong — I’ve had one or two good jobs, but as I mentioned earlier, my journey to this particular job takes me back. Two years ago the only thing I knew about Aurora was that they could help people who are coming out of homeless shelters pay their rent. I had no idea about the many services they offered to homeless individuals in our community until I was in need of those services. Due to a medical condition, I was unable to work and eventually lost my job and my home. While staying in one of the local shelters, I met some wonderful people who were apart of this wonderful program.
I not only got connected with much needed services, I also learned of an upcoming position that was going to be open at Aurora. Because of a good friend and his encouragement and belief that this would be a good fit for me, I applied for the position. Vision 1505-Community Engagement Specialist, what is that? “There’s no way”, I thought.
Coming from a poverty stricken background and having just gone through another financial and personal hardship, it was a fight to stay positive. Why would they hire me? I’m not a social worker or case manager. I’ll just wait and pray for a blessing.
“I got it!” “I got it!” As I’m Dancing around the living room, I feel: joy, gratitude, pride, thankfulness, and excitement. Believe me, this list could go on. I feel like the people at Aurora saw me and not my past circumstances.
It has been six months now and I love both my new job and my new co-workers. I am fortunate enough to get to go to work every day and work alongside individuals who give tirelessly to those in our community who are struggling. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that I work with people who, each day, go above and beyond their “job responsibilities.” To work for an agency that helps those in our community that some not only look down on, but turn away from, gives me so much pride.
Vision 1505 is my home away from home. I want what’s best for each resident. I feel my job is to do more than just plan events. I feel that together we are building a positive and thriving community.
Verlinda is the Community Engagement Specialist for Vision 1505, which is program of Aurora and Evansville Housing Authority. Vision is a permanent supportive housing complex that provides 32 apartment units to homeless families and supportive services to help them stabilize their lives and become happy, healthy engaged members of the community.
Verlinda lives in Evansville with her daughter, Lasha, and son, Chase. She enjoys going to the theater (live shows are awesome!), traveling and fishing. Verlinda considers herself a sci-fi junkie.