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Care at the core of helping Vernon’s homeless

Naomi makes a difference in the lives of the community’s most vulnerable
As a community support worker for Turning Points Collaborative Society, Naomi works to ensure such basic needs as housing are afforded to those without. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

Coming from a tough childhood, Naomi worked hard to overcome the hurdles of her life. That drive to be better, and create a healthier life for her own children, is also extended in her work.

As a community support worker for Turning Points Collaborative Society, she helps others in the same manner.

“She is a rare gem to behold, especially in this day and age with nobody caring about their fellow man near as much,” said Kyle Garnot, who nominated Naomi to be featured in this special section.

“Through all this COVID and all the things that come with it and even when the job is a big commitment Naomi isn’t one to shy away and it’s purely out of caring for people.”

Originally from Prince George, 38-year-old Naomi now calls Vernon home with her four children, between the ages of 12 and 20.

Working in the field for the past 10 years, the clients at Turning Points are like a second family to Naomi.

“I love that I can be a safe person for them,” she said.

Getting to know Naomi

What is it that drives you in your work?

What drives me to do this work is my ambition to help our marginalized groups of people. I deal with everything from addiction to mental health. The vulnerable deserve the same love and dignity as anyone else would receive. I do this work because everyone is somebody’s someone.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about helping my clients succeed in whatever it is they want to do. Whether it is getting into housing, recovery, making a doctor’s appointment, giving them a warm meal, a safe place to sleep or even just someone to listen to them. I am in this field of work because vulnerable people deserve to have someone to be their voice when they can’t be.

How do you find work-life balance/ what do you do to escape?

To de-stress and unwind I take time to myself, or I go for drives. I like to spend my free time with my children and family. I also enjoy nature. I find sitting down by the water is calming, relaxing and it recharges me.

What is one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?

I was a teen mom who had my first child at 17. I grew up in of foster care as I was born to a teen mom who struggled with addiction. I am a domestic abuse survivor. I have worked hard to overcome a lot of hurdles in my life in order to give my children a loving home and a solid family – something I longed for in my childhood. I believe my past has built, strengthened, and moulded me into the person I am today.

What advice would you give young women who are interested in your field?

The advice I would give to any young women wanting to enter the field of work I do is to do everything with kindness. Always listen with your heart and don’t take anything said to you personally. If you want to do this field of work, you must want to do it. These people need a voice, and they need to be heard. so you must be committed.

Jennifer Smith

About the Author: Jennifer Smith

20-year-Morning Star veteran
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