Sarah Koski, SVdP case manager at the 410 Garfield Safe Sleep Site in Eugene.

Sarah Koski, a case manager at the 410 Garfield Safe Sleep Site operated by St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County (SVdP), recently was honored among Estée Lauder’s Top 100 Global Women Leaders and named a 2022 fellow in the Vital Voices Visionaries program.

The Estée Lauder Emerging Leaders Fund, a charitable fund of The Estée Lauder Companies Inc., bestows the latter recognition in tandem with Vital Voices Global Partnership, a nonprofit founded on the idea that nations and communities cannot move forward without women’s voices in leadership positions. (Learn more and scroll through bios of all new 2022 honorees on the official VV Visionaries program page.)

Koski now will engage in a seven-week online leadership training program for 100 newly named VV Visionaries. It will incorporate lessons from Estée Lauder executives and members of the Vital Voices network — which includes some 20,000 change-makers in 184 countries. The course supports the next generation of trailblazing women leaders by increasing their access to leadership training and the networks that sustain them.

The larger aim of the VV Visionaries program is to champion women leaders across diverse sectors, industries and experiences who want to create positive social impact in their communities and beyond.

Stabilizing support

Koski earned her distinctions from Estée Lauder and Vital Voices after she submitted an essay detailing her case-management work at the 410 Garfield Safe Sleep Site — one of two such emergency shelters SVdP operates for the City of Eugene. As case manager at one of Oregon’s lowest-barrier shelters for those experiencing homelessness, Koski has encountered exceedingly diverse and under-represented voices among hundreds of shelter guests.

Koski joined the SVdP staff at 410 Garfield shortly after the shelter opened in February 2022. She since has employed a wide range of tools and trauma-informed practices to support residents representing a broad spectrum of needs. She has galvanized staff efforts to enhance not only the daily living experience at the shelter, but the resources guests can access as they work toward employment, addiction recovery, affordable housing and other forms of stability in their lives.

Just a few examples of these efforts include the introduction of skills-based resumé building assistance for shelter guests seeking to overcome their barriers to employment; the creation of nutrition kits tailored to the needs of those in recovery from substance addiction; and the addition of new recreational opportunities for guests, including an outdoor basketball hoop and weekly movie nights.

Local impact, global stage

Koski is quick to share credit with her SVdP coworkers for their efforts to serve Safe Sleep Site guests and improve the community in the process. She also is excited about how her new high-profile honors will help her relay their collaborative success stories far and wide.

“I am so humbled and absolutely grateful to be in this position and bring light to the groundbreaking work of St. Vinnie’s in the community,” Koski says. “My entire heart and being is dedicated to supporting our most vulnerable voices. I am truly inspired by the hard work of our homeless-services team and the extent they go to inject love into our community.”

Koski attended her first VV Visionaries leadership training course on Oct. 13, with 50 women representing 27 countries in her online cohort.

“I had breakout sessions with amazing women from South Africa, Cameroon, Brazil, Uganda, Peru, and more,” Koski says. “It’s so powerful to share our story of 410 around the world!”