Staff Spotlight on Scattered Site team – Joann Markley

May 22, 2017

Last week the Urban Ministry Center blog began featuring stories about our staff members and the excellent work they do. We hope you enjoy learning about our team members and what they love about UMC.

Staff Spotlight Joann MarkleyWe sat down at Moore Place in the office that Joann Markley shares with three other case managers. I was curious to get to know her better. What did she like? What did she have to share that coworkers at UMC might not know about her? “She eats fruit with every meal!” piped in Ben, another case worker in the office. That was something. Well not every meal, Joann clarified, but she was very partial to oranges.

Joann went on to share that she loves plants and gardening and has been interested in learning about the different plants that can grow in different parts of the country. She explains that here there is “completely different soil from where I came from.” Joann is originally from Kansas but moved out to be near her sister and liked Charlotte enough to stick around when that sister ended up moving a year later.

Joann went to school for psychology and did not foresee her career in case management, but it is “a natural fit.” Joann worked in a program tied to a federal research study, and from there ended up doing case management. The program she worked with dealt with homeless individuals who had a severe and persistent mental illness. She worked closely with the Urban Ministry Center during that time. “We had different individuals that we collaborated on.” When UMC started HousingWorks they called her up. “I had had enough experience with sort of the older model of housing folks. I’d been doing it for years, and so I saw the problems with helping somebody to keep stable housing. In the older model, if somebody were to -let’s say- they had to be clean and sober to go into housing and they go into housing and they relapse. Oftentimes they would end up losing their housing over that. [Housing first] just made more sense to me.” Joann became the very first case manager for HousingWorks at the Urban Ministry Center and one of the pioneers of Housing First in Charlotte.

At the beginning it was just her and Kathy Izard. Moore Place was still in the visionary phases. Time went on and others joined the team, Caroline Chambre Hammock, Ben King and others. A lot has changed since those early days. “Honestly, it’s been constant change, you know? Which is sometimes difficult, but it makes you stop and look at what’s important and what you’re doing.” Despite all the changes and growth, the team has worked to stay together. “I think as a team, as we grow we have to work to stay connected. It’s very important to our work because we help each other out a lot- both with information, with backup, and with emotional support. So even though there has been change, we’ve worked to keep it strong.”

Relationships with tenants are also important. “For me it’s an honor to get to have somebody trust you enough to share what they do with you. You learn things about folks that you’re working with, that sometimes you don’t know about family or friends.” Joann has been working with some of the same people since the program started. “It’s hard to believe that 9 years have gone by- that the program has grown this much. It’s exciting to see people that you know are gonna be able to be housed, and it’s been exciting to see the connections in the community around us.” Joann looks forward to the growth and changes that UMC still has to come as we advance our mission of ending homelessness.