HRHA Welcomes New FSS Coordinator

The Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program is one of the primary avenues HRHA utilizes to help families develop skills, improve financial stability, and move toward self-sufficiency. The Coordinator for this program provides the necessary case management, vision, and oversight to ensure participant success. The Coordinator helps connect FSS families with dozens of community resources and partners, provide resume and job readiness assistance, and aid families in setting & meeting goals. Shirley Sheets has led this program for the last 12 years, but has recently moved to a position with the County schools. We will miss Shirley dearly but are excited to welcome Zoe Parakuo as the new FSS Coordinator. Zoe Parakuo portrait

Zoe brings a wealth of experience to the FSS Program. Originally from Kenya, Zoe moved to the U.S. in 2009, attending Harrisonburg High School and then Eastern Mennonite University. She holds a B.A. in Peace Studies & Conflict Resolution from EMU, where she was active in the International Student Union, Black Student Union, and Peace Fellowship. Following graduation Zoe served with Mennonite Central Committee in Tanzania as a Women’s Empowerment Mentor. After returning to the U.S. Zoe worked as an Assistant Case Manager with our local Church World Service office. Zoe is excited to connect with our FSS participants and continue to grow the program, empowering individuals and families to move toward self-sufficiency.

Questions about the FSS Program? Feel free to reach out to our office at 540-437-9545.

A Gift for Every Child

Small Christmas Tree with names of children as ornaments

The Holiday season can be stressful on families, particularly as parents wrestle with the cost of providing gifts for theirchildren. Since 2007, HRHA has provided Holiday Gift Assistance for parents in our Family Self-Sufficiency Program. Dozens of community members take a child’s name each year, donating toys, clothes, and gift cards to children living in affordable housing.

You can receive a child’s name (November 8 – December 13) at Santa’s Workshop at the Valley Mall, The Salon at JCPenny, or by calling 540-437-9545. Please bring gifts unwrapped back to the Valley Mall, along with the ornament (name) of the child. You can also drop off gifts at our Reservoir St office (143 Reservoir St). To donate directly to this program, you can visit our website at www.harrisonburgrha.com/donate. Thank you for your support!

 

12 Years of Service

This week is Shirley Sheets’ last week with HRHA. Shirley Sheets has served as the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Coordinator for HRHA since 2007. The FSS Coordinator develops individualized plans with participants that facilitate achievement of financial, educational, and employment goals. She has been instrumental in helping low-income individuals and families move towards self-sufficiency.

An advertisement in the paper originally drew Ms. Shirley (as many program participants call her) to the FSS Coordinator position. “I’ve always liked helping other people. That was the most important thing I was looking for,” she noted. Over the years she has assisted hundreds of individuals with job applications, educational achievements, and access to community resources. Walk into the office on a typical weekday and Ms. Shirley is likely meeting with an FSS participant, working with them on pre-employment preparation, finding quality childcare, or making a budget. When not in the office, Shirley is often out in the community, coordinating programs that help encourage and empower program participants. two women in an office looking at a paper, including Ms. Shirley

She shared, “Seeing people fulfill their goals, like when they buy a house or a car, that has been very rewarding for me.” One program participant shared, “After I quit my last job, I had pretty low self-confidence. Ms. Shirley worked with me to find a new opportunity. She helped with the application for my current job, and I eventually went in for an interview. If I didn’t have Shirley’s support, I would not have gotten my new job. I’m really going to miss her. Her positivity rubs off on people, her confidence helped me get to where I am today.”

Shirley is moving into the role of Literacy Coordinator with the Rockingham County School system. We wish her all the best in this next phase.

5.5 Million to Support Rental Assistance in 2018

While HRHA owns and manages 280 housing units in Harrisonburg, a majority of families receiving housing assistance rent from private landlords through the Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCV). Voucher participants pay a portion of the rent based on their income, and

HRHA pays the rest of the rent directly to the landlord. In 2018, the $5.5 million in rental assistance included rental payment to 200+ private landlords housing over 600 families. We are incredibly grateful for our participating landlords, who provide affordable housing units throughout the City of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County.

Currently, HRHA administers 883 vouchers, and is always seeking participating landlords. There are many benefits to partnering with HRHA, including guaranteed payment by HRHA, maintained independence, and more. For more information and to list your unit with us, you can check out our website at www.harrisonburgrha.com/landlord-programs, or reach out to our HCV Manager Liz Webb at (540)-434-7386.