More than 30 years ago, CARITAS began as a mobile shelter largely supported by local congregations who hosted guests on a rotating basis. Our busses helped guests their campuses each night and your congregations kept them fed, rested, and loved. Today, we are now officially a permanent shelter!
That means that the day-to-day job of Jenn Patterson, BA, QMHP-C has changed quite a bit. As our Women’s Emergency Shelter Program Manager, she is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day functions of the women’s shelter. She also provides case management support services to women who come to our Richmond shelter.
Jenn is from Charlotte, NC. She has studied criminology and counseling, which led her to CARITAS.
“It started with volunteering in high school,” she says. “Since college, I have always held positions helping others.”
In her office at CARITAS, Jenn has a sign that reads “Homeless Not Hopeless.” As you might imagine, she does a lot more than help people. Through compassion and expertise, she changes the trajectory of many lives.
“Our society sees people experiencing homelessness as people who are unmotivated and unwilling to change their circumstances,” Jenn says. “People experiencing homelessness often have a significant history of trauma that has led them to a place where they have limited support or resources.”
At CARITAS, we recognize that homelessness not only means not having a place to sleep at night, it means a lack of “mental health resources, medical resources, financial resources, substance use resources, employment resources, access to community agencies like DSS, DARS and SSA.”
“Our job is to assess a participant’s needs and help guide them to all of these resources with the hope that it will eventually lead to stable housing,” Jenn explains.
In the women’s shelter’s new permanent home at the CARITAS Center, Jenn says the agency took “a big and necessary step.” With our new location, participants have ease and consistency, 24-7 comfort and safety, and more access to our case management services.
“Many women in the shelter suffer from dual diagnoses, meaning they have a mental health and substance use disorder,” Jenn explained. “Being housed under one roof with The Healing Place for Women will hopefully allow for an easy transition from the shelter into the recovery program should they choose that path.”