As a Case Manager at St. Francis House, Ashly Culver works directly with people experiencing homelessness, helping them overcome obstacles on their path to stability and housing. From helping our unhoused neighbors obtain ID’s and paperwork, to locating affordable furniture, Ashly provides individualized support, helping our guests end their homeless experience.
How long have you been with St. Francis House and what do you do here?
I’ve been in this position since May, but I also I volunteered here when I was in college. Also, 14 or 15 years ago my aunt went through the MAP program and that is how I heard about St. Francis House. I wanted to see what they do here and that’s what really got me into human service work as well.
Could you describe your work on the day-to-day?
I work in housing, trying to find people answers to the difficulties that they’re facing in life.
It’s like a puzzle, and I try to find the right pieces to make that puzzle work. It could involve a wide range of problems. I listen to a lot of people and see where they’re at and what exactly I can do to best help them navigate through services and try to get, usually, stable housing.
How many guests do you normally work with?
It’s very irregular because I mostly work at with their schedules, which aren’t always predictable. I had three people pop up today, but usually I guess I try to meet with four.
On my caseload currently, I work with six people, following through on long-term goals and whatever they need.
I love it, there’s always a new thing to tackle and you learn something every day.
At the same time, it’s very challenging and I take it very seriously. You’re really dealing with people’s lives. Sometimes it’s frustrating because you can’t always figure out the right answer.
When you’re helping guests find housing, what kind of assistance do you provide, or what to guests come to you for?
It’s usually that they’re stuck on the street. For some people it’s trying to figure out how to either apply for housing or how to get ID or the documents needed to start applying for that stuff.
It could also be getting different benefits whether, SNAP, assistance getting rides, disability, or work training in addition to what they offer upstairs, which we always usually refer them to because it is a great program.
But sometimes it’s difficult. Today, I had somebody come in who lives in the shelter system and was in jail. People don’t think about how much control they have over you.
In jail, you’re told what you do and then in the shelter you have to be in and out be certain times. You are given all these rules that control what you do.
I didn’t want this guest to sleep outside or anything, but whatever I tried to do, like get him a shelter or something, he would refuse saying, “I don’t wanna be there at a certain time,” or, “I don’t wanna have to wake up at the crack of dawn, I’m an adult.” And he’s right, I would hate that.
It was just kind of eye-opening to me. So, part of what I try to give them is autonomy over some of their stuff and let them know that they do have a choice and there are options out there.
What part of your job do you enjoy most?
Besides getting people housed, I love finding furniture. You never think about that, right? I love knowing that they trust me too, and they know that I am really doing everything and anything that I possibly can.
No matter how many people I see, I still remember them and that trust and partnership that you eventually develop.
They just rely on you and it’s hard to deal with, but it’s very nice. It’s rewarding.
Is there anything you wish people knew about your role or your department?
We rely on teamwork. We’re all here to do one thing and it’s to help these guests live their best lives no matter what their situation is.
It’s just very welcoming and it’s just a great team, I appreciate that a lot.