“The biggest chunk of my job is [the residents’] emotional wellbeing, emotional health,” she said. “I have therapeutic conversations with them biweekly.”
It’s important for Telisa to understand the challenges the residents experienced before coming to Ridgeland, she explained. Because many of them come to Ridgeland after experiencing homelessness in some form, whether it was living in their car, staying on friends’ couches, or even living in abandoned buildings, they often don’t know how to care for an apartment.
“[I go] into those apartments, helping them clean, teaching them how to clean, things like that,” she said.
She also manages the building, making sure everything is clean, that things like the washers and dryers are working, and managing work orders, in addition to recruiting AfterCare members to live at Ridgeland.
And when the residents are ready to move out, Telisa is with them every step of the way for that, too.
“I’ve gone to apartment hunt with them, I’ve helped them clean up their unit, I’ve helped them pack [and] I meet with them after they leave just to see what they’re doing,” she said. “[I want to see if] they are actually taking in the tools … they were given here. Are they using that in their life outside Ridgeland and if they’re not, what are some of the hiccups that are happening in their life? What are some of the things [they] find currently [to be] a roadblock [and how can I] continue being a support and help?”
Telisa also makes sure that Ridgeland feels like a real home for all its residents and arranges for them to celebrate holidays as a community. She’s put together things like a haunted house at Halloween and arranged for the kids to be able to safely trick-or-treat at the apartment complex. She’s also held birthday, Christmas, and Easter celebrations for the residents.