This week, we are celebrating Debi Pauletto, the community relations coordinator at the Center for Women and Children. Debi has worked at UGM for 16 years and has played a crucial role in reaching homeless women and children in the Inland Northwest. On Friday, she retires.
In honor of her retirement, the following is part one of an interview with her, focused on the rapid increase among homeless women and children, as well as, her role in community relations raising awareness about this population.
Why has there been such an increase of homelessness among women and children in recent years?
What do you see as the greatest need for the women and children at the Center?
I believe they get a solid program while living at the Center, but when they leave/graduate, they need an aftercare program. That, I believe, is currently our greatest need. I envision our generous community partnering with us to help women live with greater accountability and safe, affordable housing after they graduate.
What is Community Relations?
Building awareness in the community of who UGM, and specifically the Center, is, what we offer, and why it works. It also entails getting the community connected to the Center through onsite visits, speaking engagements, Table Talk Dinners, special offsite events, etc.
What is your favorite part of Community Relations?
Building relationships in the community, connecting the community with us in some way, and connecting others to the impact of what happens in a woman's life when she embraces a personal relationship with Jesus. I also enjoy getting to know each resident through a class I teach, walking alongside her as she begins changing from the inside out. And I love when a resident shares her journey with me, those visiting the Center, or even an auditorium full of folks. That is connecting people with the impact of what's happened, both in her life and in our program.
What would people be surprised to know about your work?
Not sure this is any surprise, but this work is the Lord's work. He alone can change a life. It is thrilling to walk alongside a woman as she embraces the truth and changes from the inside-out, but also heart-breaking when she chooses to walk away from her children and the opportunity to change. For life-long transformation to be sustained, it takes hard-work, as well as, the community to walk alongside our women and their children in long-lasting relationship (mentors, aftercare). This presents both great opportunities and challenges for Community Relations.
Watch for the second part of Debi's interview on Friday.
Each of our women's shelters have been impacted by the increase among homeless women and children. Sign up to receive updates on the women coming to our Crisis Shelter.