Laura first began working at Bethlehem Housing and Support Services, then known as Bethlehem Projects, on May 1, 1988.
At the time Laura was a student in the Social Service Worker Program at Niagara College and was completing her placement in the Senior Citizen Department at the Niagara Region. Her placement supervisor recommended they attend a luncheon where the first Executive Director of Bethlehem, Elsje Zwart, was speaking about the newly opened organization
After listening to Elsje speak, Laura decided Bethlehem was where she wanted to begin her career. She sent in her resume, received an interview, completed her program at Niagara College and started working for Bethlehem immediately after.
Now 30 years later, Laura says she has never imagined working anywhere else.
Laura’s role has changed over the course of her 30 years with the organization. She is currently filling the role of Intake and Community Support Worker. Additionally, she facilitates support groups focused on developing healthy relationships, as well as coping with grief loss.
“As the intake worker I am the initial point of contact for people when they call Bethlehem. I help them to determine what exactly they are looking for help with, whether it’s housing, support services or community outreach.” Laura will then assign a Community Support Worker to work with the client based on their needs.
There are a number of reasons why Laura has committed her career to Bethlehem, but the one that stands out to her most is that the organization is always growing. “I admire how Bethlehem is able to adapt and grow based on the needs of the community. For example, we are building a new affordable housing development that will help another 127 individuals or families in our community who need supportive housing.”
Laura walks alongside her clients throughout their journey to stable housing and improved quality of life. “I have had over 1000 clients since 1988 and each one has been significant. It means so much when a past client tells me they remember the life skills I have taught them and that they still use these skills in their day-to-life. After hearing these positive comments, why would I want to work anywhere else?”
It is important for Laura that the residents living with Bethlehem know they have support and guidance whenever it is needed.
“After 30 years I can definitely say it has been an honour and a privilege to work for an organization that cares so much about improving the quality of life for people in our community.”