Author Megan Marshall’s life was in disarray when she came to her new home in St. Vincent de Paul’s Bascom Village. Her story demonstrates the importance of Resident Services workers in making newcomers feel welcome, safe and cared for.

My first encounter with the Resident Services staff was one in which I will never forget. It was a day in September of 2016, after another emotionally charged meeting with my school counselor regarding the escalation of abusive behavior from my “husband at the time” towards myself and my children.

I had tried to maintain my life as a wife, mother, and student in the Physical Therapist Assistant Program (PTA) at LCC. In reality, I was falling apart. The walls of the home I used to cherish felt like prison bars. No longer could I turn a blind eye to the toxic environment that hindered the emotional health and physical safety of my boys and myself. That September day I left the LCC program to pursue what was more important: A safe and healthy life on my own with my kids.

Going directly from campus to courthouse, I filed a restraining order that would allow me 30 days to find a place and get my head on straight. During a subsequent call to the Womenspace crisis line, I learned of a potential opening in Bascom Village.

I went straight there, despite my trembling hands, tear-stained clothes, and panicked state of mind. Elizabeth, Bascom Village’s Resident Services Coordinator at the time, welcomed me with warm eyes and a heart of gold. Bonnie was there to help me through the housing-application process. The experiences I have had since with the Resident Services program have been a guiding light to building confidence in my children and me through a major life change.

I’m so grateful for the Extra Helping and Food Pantry programs available to us weekly. The dedication and compassion that (Resident Services workers) Sharrie and Laura bring to their work are evident, from the way the food is organized, clean and accessible, to the communication shared both informally and formally during this gathering. It was during one of these information sessions, while waiting for the pantry to open, that I learned Sharrie, the current Resident Services Coordinator, could help mediate conflict resolutions between management and residents if need be.

I was very relieved when I learned this because I was feeling uncomfortable. Sharrie listened to my concerns with patience and empathy. Resident Services was able to help me navigate a very unfamiliar situation to me, and that was very comforting. Sharrie is truly a special lady who takes the time to listen to you while offering straight-up advice that is practical and honest. I think our community benefits greatly from this social service, and without it many issues could either go unsaid or escalate to an unhealthy degree. I see Sherrie frequently in our community and I know she is appreciated by many. I have seen her calm the troubled waters of a resident in a heightened state of emotion as well as create laughter and comradery.

My neighbors come from all walks of life with stories unique to each. Our community is diverse. I have found that when you lead with love and light, more people give it back to you, and fewer push it away.