Theresa Trowell, United Way Social Navigator

Published on February 8, 2024 in

I have been with United Way since 2017 – first as a 2-1-1 community care advocate and currently as a social navigator. I absolutely love working as a social navigator because I’m able to offer more than just referrals. We’re able to take our time and build relationships with the people who call in asking for help. We also help them find additional resources and navigate toward solutions to their immediate needs and long-term goals.

I have answered thousands of calls over the course of my career with United Way but there are certain calls that stick with you – leaving an imprint on your mind and an ache in your heart. Earlier this year, I received a call from Pyzhane, a young mother who was experiencing homelessness and sleeping in her car. She struggled through tears asking for assistance finding shelter. Knowing every local shelter had a waitlist but understanding the urgency of her need, I hoped against hope and called anyway.

I explained Pyzhane’s situation to the team at All Things Women. Their shelter was full, but they had a gated, secure lot where she could park and sleep. They also offered her warm meals and use of the bathroom and laundry facilities until a bed opened up. It wasn’t much but at the same time, it was everything. My willingness to go the extra mile allowed Pyzhane to feel a glimmer of hope. She cried with relief, and I sighed with that same feeling.

It’s that feeling that wakes me up every day – excited for every call because I know it’s an opportunity to make a positive difference in someone’s life. Sometimes all it takes is a little compassion and a lot of hope.