How to change a life

I have been helping produce Infopeople webinars for several years, and have listened to some great presentations. But something amazing happened recently. This May, San Francisco Public Library’s Karen Strauss and Leah Esguerra presented two webinars on Handling Challenging Situations: What Do I do Now? (Here is Part 1 and here is Part 2 – and both archives are worth viewing in their entirety.) These were excellent presentations about SFPL’s placement of a social worker at the Main Library to link users to housing and social services. In Part 2 they focused on the development of a program they call Health and Safety Associates (HaSA), providing opportunities to develop marketable skills for people who had been homeless. That program in itself is really cool, but what really set this webinar apart was the guest speaker, Kathleen Lee.

Kathleen has been a Health and Safety Associate at the San Francisco Public Library since October, 2010. Before that she and her partner owned a painting and restoration business in Sacramento. During the recession in 2009, they lost their business and became, for the first time, homeless. Thanks to services provided by the City and County of San Francisco and the Homeless Outreach Team, Kathleen and her partner have since been able to recover from homelessness. Through her training as a HaSA, Kathleen was hired as a counselor at a local shelter and is now working full-time employment with the Homeless Outreach Team — the same program that helped her and her partner find permanent housing. She continues to work as a part-time HASA at the Library.

Her story is wonderfully inspiring! Kudos to SFPL for giving her a chance, and kudos to Kathleen for her journey from homelessness to a new life – and for being willing to share her story with us. We found it so remarkable that we created a podcast of her talk. It’s a TED Talk-worthy listen!


2 thoughts on “How to change a life

  1. When I was encouraged to take this Webinair- I was excited about the learning- but hesitant about the content. In my life I have been surrounded by family/friends/mates with mental illness, substance abuse, alcoholism- I want to
    go to work to feel stable and normal and safe. But I have noticed since working at the library
    that folks sometimes gravitate to me to ask where self help books are- I always feel encouraging in showing them where they are. After watching this webinair- I realize that I have a lot of life skills myself to deal with
    these folks- but need to be open minded and fearless in being willing to serve them. I have
    personally taken many self help classes & attended many 12 step meetings. This helps me
    in my career at the library and it also deepens and expands the compassionate person I say I want to be. Thank you!

  2. Hi Eileen. This blog post about Kathleen’s moving webinar presentation is similar to the tenor of chat comments I saw scrolling by as she was sharing her inspiring story. I too urge people to listen to and share the podcast link. I promise you’ll come away feeling hopeful about a challenging aspect of society today as well as proud to be working in this field.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.