People Who Make Life Better
While sitting with Andrea Foster of our Community Resources program, we were interrupted three times: one person needed access to the food pantry, a family needed to sign up for our Children’s Holiday Program, and a man who is currently homeless needed a decent pair of pants for a job interview. Not to mention the ringing the phone.
It’s all in an afternoon’s work for the Operations Manager of Community Resources, Unity House’s emergency services program. Often thought of as poverty services, Community Resources is usually the first point of contact for people seeking help, sometimes in acute crisis. Located on the first floor of the Front Door at 2431 Sixth Avenue in Troy, Community Resources offers daily meals, a food pantry, ReStyle, the Unity House store, eviction prevention, and HEAP, the home energy assistance for those facing utility shut-off. Andrea Foster’s job is to keep things running smoothly, for guests and staff, who work individually with people to help get needs met.
The needs can be great. The program focuses on life’s essentials, such as food, clothing, and housing. Community Resources often overlaps with other Unity House programs such as Domestic Violence Services, Supportive Housing & Case Management, A Child’s Place, and Northeast Career Planning. Community Resources can be a challenging place to work because it sees a high volume of guests. Staff work to get what people they need and manage expectations. It’s demanding work. Andrea does a great job mentoring new staff, and models how to meet people where they are at, treating everyone with respect. This can go a long way since it is not always easy to ask for help.
Although Andrea has only been at Unity House for less than a year, she is familiar with human services and Unity House as an agency. A Troy native, as a child, Andrea shopped at the Unity House store with her mom, who would often search the clothing racks for hospital scrubs for her job. Andrea followed in her mom’s footsteps: she earned her LPN and has a second job working weekends at Van Rensselaer Manor. Andrea has also found time to work towards her Bachelor’s Degree, studying human services, with a concentration in children and family services.
No two days are alike
Whether it’s helping to unload the 1,000 pounds of food delivered each week for the pantry shelves, stocking the Unity House store with clothing, or helping a guest grab a shower and do laundry, it’s all in a day’s work in Community Resources. Andrea is familiar with the kinds of services our guests need as she has done volunteer work with her Troy church, actively assisting area non-profits that provide the kind of direct, hands-on help that Unity House and others offer.
Want to learn more about Unity House services? Reach out to (518) 274-2607 x4133 or contact Stefanie Bastien, Director of Development & Communications at Unity House: Sbastien@UnityHouseNY.org. Or stop by our Community Resource Center to say hello to Andrea. No doubt, she’ll be the one in charge, greeting guests and handing out hot meals.