“I just knew I was going to be here. When I got that phone call to come in, I didn’t just come over, I ran over,” she laughs. “It’s a blessing because I’ve always been interested in working with the homeless population.”
Leslie’s passion for helping people emerged years earlier, when her sister passed away after a battle with HIV. She promised her sister she would learn more about HIV and how to help others with the disease.
“I was there every step of the way with her,” Leslie said. “I was interested in working with the AIDS population because it hit close to home. Several other family members have tested positive and I just felt this was my calling.”
Now, Leslie works as a Health Educator at three different locations: the Briarwood Family Shelter, the Franklin Shelter, and Susan’s Place, doing HIV pre, post, and plus testing and giving workshops on health issues such as STDs, healthy relationships. Most recently at Briarwood, she gave a workshop on germ protection for homeless children.
“I start my days at Briarwood with a greeting that’s always ‘good morning family,’” she says. “I want them to be able to walk into the clinic and be themselves, and not have that client/worker atmosphere. I love the families at Briarwood. I have workshops with the single female parents, but there are a lot of single male parents there that need the help I can give.”
Leslie loves the family feeling that is evident in the Briarwood Family Shelter. She has seen that if she approaches the clients, not as just a CFH employee, but as a friend, she is able to have more genuine conversations, allowing them to open up to her and make themselves available for her help.
“I really love what I do, I love the people I work with and the people I work for. There’s not a dull day and every day I learn something new. I try to go out of my way to make it pleasing for the clients and let them know that no matter what their status is, you can always have a beautiful life. I give out hope. I should wear a shirt that says that,” she laughs.