Read our Q&A with Intensive Case Management Supervisor Soraya Naim, who is celebrating 17 years at Homes First!
What do you love most about working for Homes First?
The fact that Homes First keeps their doors open to so many individuals regardless of who they are or where they come from, their ethnicity or religion. We welcome those with mental health, addiction, refugees/new comers and so many more. I am proud to be a part of this wonderful organization where we get to provide the resources and help with housing, shelters, counselling, referrals, and much more.
Do you have a memorable interaction with a client you’d like to share?
Once I received an elderly female client who was a refugee that had come to Canada by herself. She was so mistreated and taken advantage of by awful people that she eventually had a mental breakdown. I took on her case and advocated on her behalf to see a psychiatrist. I would often assist her in staying in touch with her family back home as this was a major source of anxiety for her. It was decided that it would be best to assist the client in returning back to their home country to stay with her family. With help from the CBSA (Canadian Border Services Agency) we were able to prepare her paperwork and book her a flight to return home. I really resonated with this client as I imagined my mother being in her shoes and how she must’ve felt being so far away from her children. I am really glad that she is safe, near her loved ones and in a place where she feels most comfortable. Shortly after her departure, I received a thank you card and appreciation from her.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in social services?
My mother used to tell me, “When you give your hand to those that reach out to you for help, that’s when you have really lived your life.” I’ve been raised to believe in the good of others, or in doing good deeds and to always be kind. Perhaps I just want to leave an impact or make a difference in the lives of others – it’s truly a rewarding feeling for me. As a social worker, I can say with confidence that through these years I have changed people’s lives for the better, and that alone is enough of a reason as to why I chose this profession.
What would you like others to know about the people Homes First serves?
You should never underestimate anyone that is homeless. Throughout the years working at Homes First, I have had the pleasure of working with clients that hold master’s and PhD degrees, law degrees, and even medical practitioner degrees. I would have never known the intelligence of these individuals simply by looking at them. Through our various meetings and discussions, I have discovered the immense knowledge and skills possessed by our clients. You have to treat every single resident with respect and dignity. This also applies outside of the workplace, you never know who you’re speaking to, and you don’t know what circumstances people are dealing with. Simply, be kind to everyone and speak to them respectfully. As humans, we need to look out for each other, and advocate for actions to happen that will make the world a better place.