Resource Advocates help others
find their path to success
Seniors in Service welcomes our newest group of volunteers as Resource Advocates at the Resource Empowerment Centre in Tampa. These compassionate volunteers are entrenched in the community, meeting with people of all ages who need support to get back on their feet. They listen to each individual’s story, identify resources that could help, walk them through the process of applying for services, and most importantly, follow up to ensure help was received.
When a person’s life has been turned upside down by homelessness, unemployment, a medical condition, or burdensome expenses, the paperwork and systems designed to help can add to the overwhelming stress. Resource Advocates become the voice for people who are unable to speak for themselves, and their goal is to teach each person how to access the services that will empower them for future success. This “buddy system” helps discouraged individuals feel confident to advocate for themselves and equipped to improve their situation and use their knowledge to help others.
Life can change for anyone at a moment’s notice, especially with rising inflation and housing costs, leaving individuals of all ages homeless or without the basic necessities of life. Now more than ever, Resource Advocates are a necessary support system to help people already overwhelmed by their circumstances navigate the complicated system to access the help they need.
There’s something comforting about receiving help from someone who has been where you are, experienced some of life’s most difficult trials, and triumphed on the other side. They understand the feelings of anxiety, frustration, and uncertainty when your life is turned upside down. That’s what makes this group of volunteers extra special. Many of these volunteers have faced life-altering challenges, and someone has walked alongside them with resources for a brighter future. Now they’re ready to do the same for their neighbors.
December Clark (middle) is Geared Up to be a Resource Advocate and use her own life experiences to empower others toward a brighter future. Program Coordinators Carolina Montoya (Left) and Katrina Osborne (Right) are excited to welcome all the new Resource Advocates to the team!
Tina Clark (middle) knows what it’s like to experience homelessness and the feeling of relief when you receive meaningful support. Now she’s ready to pay that kindness forward as a Resource Advocate.
December Clark has walked in the shoes of many of the clients who come to the Resource Empowerment Center, which gives her the unique ability to empathize with their situation and provide the words of encouragement they need to hear. December experienced homelessness and understands why it’s so important to have someone who has been where you are come alongside to help you through a difficult time.
December shared that when a client first comes to the Resource Empowerment Center, you can see they are overwhelmed and unable to find the words they need to express their needs. She works to replace their crisis mindset with one of possibilities for success. Once clients realize Resource Advocates will provide real support, not just a phone number for another agency, their demeanor changes. They become more confident and less stressed. December has always been passionate about helping others, and being a Resource Advocate allows her to use her life experiences to empower others to succeed.
Tina Clark experienced the joy and relief of having a caring person help when she needed it most and wants to give that feeling to others as a Resource Advocate.
In 2018 Tina had a declining health condition that forced her to leave her job, and as a result, she became homeless in a motel. One day she attended a class about growing vegetables, and at the end of the class, she was the only one left in the park. Katrina Osborne from Pearlena’s Adult Activity Center approached her to see how she was getting home. She shared some of her story, and Katrina told her if she ever needed help to come visit her at Pearlena’s. Tina was overwhelmed that a stranger would offer such kindness and eventually went to visit her. Katrina helped Tina find an affordable place to live and connected her to services for long-term success. Four years later Tina is thriving in the same house Katrina helped her move into.
Now Tina wants to pay that kindness forward as a Resource Advocate. She has her own experience overcoming homelessness as well as in-depth knowledge of the system of services which she gained from a career working for the Florida Department of Children and Families. Tina says it is a pleasure to use her past experience to put people on the path for success and walk alongside them until they’re able to walk alone.