Urban Pathways’ Communications Staff recently sat down with one of the amazing employees from one our supportive housing residences. Sophia Mullens has worked for Urban Pathways for two and a half years, beginning as a Case Manager and now as Wellness Coordinator.
Sophia grew up on Long Island and in college majored in psychology and childhood adolescent mental health, Sophia also has a master’s degree in Psychology. Read below on why Sophia chose psychology, how she engages Urban Pathways’ clients in wellness and self-management and how rewarding it is to see someone become stable and self-sufficient.
Why did you choose a psychology as a major?
I chose psychology because I was always interested in how the brain works. In college, I saw firsthand Art Therapy in action and how it reengaged participants with their community.
Who resides at Ivan Shapiro House?
Ivan Shapiro was built in 1997 and is the oldest building Urban Pathways owns. It is home to 55 men and women, all of whom have been chronically homeless and have a history of mental illness.
What are some of your responsibilities at Urban Pathways?
Some of my main responsibilities are running the wellness groups, coordinating housing interviews and putting together housing packages for clients who are ready to move out, making sure the clients get their annual physicals, filling vacancies, and coordinating events and programs.
How do you help clients with wellness and self-management?
I assist clients in their wellness and self-management by having an open-door policy, I want clients to feel comfortable coming to me when they have a problem and working with me on specific goals to achieve stability in their wellness and taking an active role in their health care.
How often do you meet with clients?
I meet with clients as a group on a daily basis or a couple of times a week depending on the group. Also, I meet clients one on one in my office throughout the day.
Can you describe your group meetings?
Some of the topics covered in group meetings are: managing personal budgets, apartment cleanliness, healthy eating and other basic needs. Programs typically run 60 – 90 minutes and client events can last a couple of hours.
Outside organizations come in and present to our groups on topics related to wellness and self-management. Clients graduate from wellness groups and later come back to give inspirational speeches to newer groups. Also, we have dedicated volunteers from our Associate Board and organizations like The Legal Aid Society that hold monthly events for the residents.
How do these programs benefit clients?
These programs help clients by providing educational opportunities and reinforcing positive interpersonal skills. This renews a sense of self-esteem in clients and helps them realize their potential.
How does staff collaborate to assist clients in their wellness?
Staff facilitate communication between each other and the client, with the hope of all parties being on the same page regarding reaching goals in a client’s wellness and self-management.
At Ivan Shapiro, we are lucky to have a full-time nurse, an employment specialist, and a consulting psychiatrist in addition to the case managers, operations staff and myself. This multidisciplinary team provides a well-rounded approach where everyone working in tandem based on the client’s needs, and the client is receiving the staff’s full support.
How does it make you feel helping clients in their wellness and recovery?
Personally, it makes me feel great to see people improving their health and wellness. It’s all about the client and how determined they are in recovering. We the staff, give the clients the tools, they are the ones that make the change. Helping clients also gives me a structure to my life as well, so it comes full circle because they are helping me too.
What’s new at Ivan Shapiro House in 2019?
New this year we are hosting a Social Justice Inequality group that was created to get clients more involved and aware of social justice issues. Also, we have a blanket drive coming up for our clients.
Describe a need that you have at Ivan Shapiro?
Here at Ivan Shapiro House we need funds for activities for our clients. We would love to give clients the opportunity to attend events in the community. Encouraging clients to be active members of the community is an important goal of our housing programs at Urban Pathways.
About Urban Pathways
Urban Pathways is a New York City-based, nonprofit organization that provides housing and support to homeless and at-risk adults throughout the Metropolitan area. Urban Pathways serves more than 3,700 homeless individuals a year and provides transitional, extended stay, and permanent housing to chronically homeless individuals.