“Because Homes First works with people who truly need support and housing – people who struggle with their mental health, who are immigrants, who are people of colour, who are native, everyone,” Paulina, a community housing worker, responds when asked why she chose to work here. “Homes First gave me the opportunity to learn more about others and practice compassion. That’s why I like working here and why I support Homes First.”
“My mother was a social worker in Peru. We worked together with people who were homeless. We especially helped women. That was our focus.” But with political tensions high in Peru, life was difficult and Paulina immigrated to Canada in 1990. She enrolled in the community housing program at George Brown College to build on her experiences. With her new qualifications and background, Paulina secured a job at Homes First working with Spanish-speaking clients. She is now entering her 19th year of service.
Over the years, Paulina worked at many of our locations across Toronto and loves how her job continues to evolve to meet the needs of the residents. Paulina currently works with residents at four different houses, offering support in English and Spanish.
Many newcomers have a strong academic background and work experience, but struggle to find work and transfer their credentials. Many residents in this situation want to go back to school and Paulina encourages them to enroll in programs like Skills for Change, an immigrant and employment service that provides training and professional development. “We have many new immigrants living at Bellevue, Wales House, and Vaughan. I enjoy working with them. I am happy to support tenants in their journey to live their life with dignity.”
An excerpt from our annual report. Take a peek inside for more staff and resident community stories.