By Jeremy Reynalds, Ph.D.
Founder and CEO
Joy Junction Inc.
The term “case manager” is heard a lot, but I wonder how many people know what exactly a case manager does.
I asked Carl Valles, our case manager at Joy Junction, to tell me a typical recent day-if there is such a thing.
He said he begins by reading all his emails. There was one that demanded prompt attention-a concern from an on duty supervisor about a Joy Junction guest.
The supervisor was worried about an elderly individual who was having difficulty walking, and perhaps also suffering from some sort of dementia.
Carl made his way around property to look for her, but discovered she had already left our property for the day. He asked the supervisor to alert him as soon as she came back-assuming she did.
Carl made his way back to his office and started researching topics for the next Christ in Power (CIPP) life recovery program class he was scheduled to teach.
There were a number of options. Although money management and interviewing skills are a core part of the class curriculum, Carl said there are some other issues that are just as important.
He opted for common courtesy and understanding of others, and narrowed down what is quite a big topic to “Five ways to be thoughtful and considerate of others.”
Having decided on this topic, Carl then went to all the Bible verses relevant to the topic and printed them out as resource materials for the upcoming class attendees. He spent about an hour going over the material.
Carl’s intercom buzzed. It was a call from a supervisor asking if was able to speak to a new guest about the programs we have available at Joy Junction. Carl said he would be happy to, but it would have to wait until he had completed an already scheduled appointment with a member of CIPP.
During that meeting, Carl talked with the individual about their goals, what plans they had to reach them, and what resources they needed prior to their departure from Joy Junction at some point after program graduation.
Following that meeting, Carl then met with the new guest, a single woman questioning her faith due to ongoing tragedies.
Carl learned that she had been a nurse at one point in her life until her license was suspended. She gave up her parental rights to her daughter, lost everything and ended up becoming homeless.
Carl answered all her questions, and assured her that he has an open door policy for his office and to come back if he could help her further.
Next, Carl met with a guy who as struggling with active addiction. Carl told him he needed to do whatever it took to get a grip on the issue.
Time for lunch. Carl said, “At lunch I went out and greeted residents who are familiar faces and those who are not. I discovered that people really enjoy it when someone greets or remembers them where there are some many faces in the crowd. I had my own lunch in my office a little later, while continuing to work.”
Carl next took a call from a case manager at the Los Lunas Correctional Facility. The individual wanted to know whether he could refer someone to us upon his release. After finding out the man’s criminal history, Carl and our Resident Services Supervisor, Denis Billy, determined he would not be a an appropriate fit for Joy Junction.
Next, Carl worked on schedules of volunteer hours for CIPP Participants and another (less intensive) Joy Junction Program, Hands Up. (HUP).
He analyzed the completed volunteer hours for program participants, reviewed job search logs and looked on our computer database for those who had not turned in their job searches.
Carl said he next looked around for program members who were on property, but not complying with their program requirements.
“I found one participant. We talked, and it turned out all he really wanted was a secure place to stay, that he was not interested in his spirituality or employment,” Carl said.
He added, “I told him he was no longer on the program, but case management is available to all residents at Joy Junction whether they are programmers or not. He thank me and JJ and stated he understood.”
A woman for whom Carl did research concerning student loans came to his office excited that she might have the opportunity to return to school and get a job in a new profession.
Carl said, “She was very happy with the news she received and felt hopeful.”
The supervisor called again about a new guest couple needing help.
They said they’d had bus tickets to Denver stolen, but only wanted to stay at Joy Junction as until they had the funds to get to Colorado, as they have money and support there.
Carl gave day labor job information to them, and the guy told Carl he was already familiar with Labor Ready in Colorado, for which he had worked before. They felt it wouldn’t take a lot of time to get the funds needed for the tickets.
They thanked Carl for the information.
A new guest needing encouragement was next on Carl’s agenda.
“When I asked her how I could be of assistance, she broke down crying saying she was so lost. She had been off drugs for almost a month, but felt that she needed help to remain clean and get her life back together.”
After hearing about our CIPP Program, she decided to join. She completed the necessary application.
Carl said, “We talked some more, and I was able to provide words of encouragement and understanding.”
He added, “She hugged me, and thanked me and JJ for letting stay here.”
Next it was paperwork. Carl completed the background check for this new application, and let Denis know.
Last thing for Carl to do was to complete his daily activity log for Jennifer Munsey, our chief operations officer.
Now he could call it a day and go home. How does your day at work stack up compared to that?