We’re back with another staff spotlight. This week, we are featuring Susana, our Resident Support Specialist.


Susana works with April, Magdalene’s Executive Director, to organize events and plan meetings with our residents. As a social worker, Susana helps our women to reorganize their lives with weekly scheduled programs and phase planning.


Read on to learn more about Susana and her work at Magdalene Serenity House.


What is your role at Magdalene Serenity house?


I am the Resident Support Specialist and Social Worker. My role consists of various things and whatever surprises we randomly get! I am here to support and assist April in her daily tasks and as a back-up whenever she needs to be out of the office or needs help.  I am also in charge of sending out our weekly calendar, collecting monthly statistics, collecting residents weekly group sheets, planning yearly celebration parties, treatment plans, weekly drug test, recording residents’ appointments, prepping and teaching groups. I also do phase planning with our residents and house checks to make sure the house is clean.


Why did you choose to work at Magdalene Serenity House?


Before I moved to Arkansas, I ran a program in Texas that was very similar to Magdalene. I found my purpose working there, and I knew that my heart wanted to work with this population. Before I became a social worker, I worked in the criminal justice field, but after working there for a while, I knew that this was the type of work I am supposed to be doing. So I got my master’s in social work so I could better serve them. My husband is in the Army, and we were stationed here in Arkansas. I was sad to leave the program I was working at in Texas and wanted to find something similar here in Arkansas. I was here a year before I heard about Magdalene Serenity House. A friend of mine that knew my background told me about the program. After learning about what they do, I wanted to be part of the mission and continue working with women. I want to be a voice to the silent and empower women to grow to their full potential. I get so excited when I see a resident break boundaries, fall in love with who they are, dream big, reach goals and thrive to be better each day.


Can you talk about the weekly schedule and programming offered to residents?


Every week, I plan the meetings we will have for our residents to complete their required group hours along with phase planning, AA/NA meetings and any other events. I send out the schedule to the residents so they can plan their week accordingly.


We try to offer groups that will fulfill our residents’ needs in learning life skills. We also do some therapeutic programming, and we take suggestions from our residents when they want to learn a new skill and try to put groups together that will help them in their learning journey. We also do fun groups where our women connect and have new adventures. We recently traveled to a river nearby and got to enjoy time with nature together and appreciate new things aside from work. We want to show support and appreciation to our residents in all they do. We want them to know we are always rooting for them.


Can you talk about phase planning and how you work individually with the residents?


I do phase planning weekly with our residents. We meet to go over goals and to make sure they are working towards them; we go over their budget and help them make financial decisions that will support their growth while in the program. We make sure we are working towards the goals they have identified in their treatment plan and deal with any barriers that pop up along the way. I am here for to support, guide and listen whenever they need to vent or talk through a hard situation. We try to be available as much as we can to provide guidance and support even outside regular phase planning.


What is the most rewarding and most challenging aspect of your position?


The most rewarding thing about my position is seeing the growth of each resident. The development that happens with each milestone they hit, the smile on their faces each time they move closer to their goals, the joy and gratitude I see in them after getting through a difficult situation, and their overall growth from the first day they get here until graduation and beyond.


A challenging aspect about my role is choosing a new resident each time we have a bed available. We recently did a few interviews to fill a space we had available, and making that decision was very difficult for the staff to make. The need for the support we offer is so big, and we find many people deserving of this program. We can only pick one even when we feel more of the ones we interviewed are in need and would benefit from our program. We know when we say yes to one, we are saying no to many more.


Thank you so much, Susana! You are integral part of Magdalene Serenity House and the opportunities for recovery that we offer our women. We are grateful for you!


To learn more about how you can support Magdalene Serenity House, contact april@lovehealsnwa.org or joy@lovehealsnwa.org.