Jessie sat, hands clasped, at a table in our conference room to talk about his job. He is a caseworker for Path to Independence, a program within Homeless Family Services.  He’s been doing that since August.

At first, he and his coworker, Wesley, did the legwork to prepare to rapidly rehouse 40 families. Things quickly took off.  In six short weeks, between the two of them, they had housed more than 10 families.

Talking with Jessie it’s easy to see why our clients trust and work well with him. He’s got a reassuring presence and a kind, yet confident voice.

He’s actually been with Catholic Social Services for more than two years and started as a shelter counselor at Brother Francis Shelter, later transferring into case management.  However, until Jessie was asked to talk about Path to Independence’s success, he hadn’t shared what interested him in working for us to begin with.

In 2006, Jessie found out his dad was staying at Brother Francis Shelter.

“I remember walking in and telling myself that I gotta be strong because I don’t want to cry,” he said.

His father had been struggling with alcohol addiction, but he said he was ready to change his life. Jessie helped him find a treatment program.  Long story short, in a little over 18 months, his dad successfully completed that program.

Jessie beamed. “He moved straight into an apartment and started working full-time.”  It was obvious he couldn’t be prouder of his dad.  “He’s stayed at both places until this summer.”

You may be wondering, “What happened this summer?”

After a decade of his father keeping his apartment and sobriety, Jessie’s dad was able to retire and buy his very first home here in Anchorage. Now, he plants and tends his neighborhood’s gardens.  His favorite flowers are Tiger Lilly’s and marigolds.

Jessie wanted to work at Catholic Social Services ever since he saw how caseworkers helped his dad stabilize. He had mentioned his goal back when his father was at Brother Francis Shelter.  When Jessie took the job , his father proudly reminded him what he’d said then.

Of course, every family who is touched by our programs has a different story, unique successes, and one-of-kind joys. We are humbled by all the people who restore hope to those in-need.  Will you help provide hope too?

But stories like Jessie’s and his dad’s aren’t entirely rare – though without a doubt deeply moving. Your support is what helps us create permanent stability for individuals and families, like theirs, here in Anchorage.

We all know: When a parent does better, a child does better. When a family changes, a city changes.  That is what Catholic Social Services is all about.  This holiday season, you can be part of the change that is happening in Anchorage.  Thank you for all you do and happy holidays!

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