Ron Paradise (August)

Ron Paradise (August)

What is your name, job title, and program?
My name is Ronald James Paradise, and I am currently the Case Manager for a 21-room veteran housing facility at 65 Cedar Street in Haverhill, MA.

How long have you worked at VNOC?
I started working at VNEOC on January 15, 2018 as the Employment Coordinator. In March 2020, I took over as the Case Manager for the Mansion, a 21-room veteran housing program.

What are some of the challenges you help Veterans meet and overcome?
As the Employment Coordinator, I was tasked with assisting veterans looking for employment opportunities. Having worked in the staffing industry for 23 years prior to coming into VNEOC, I began reaching out to companies I had contacts with and started to establish some relationships with local Haverhill businesses. When I began to sit with veterans to discuss employment, the biggest challenges were sporadic work history, no resume, out of work for the last few years, and not many references to support them.

Any challenges specific to the pandemic?
The biggest challenge has been making sure the veterans stay safe, make sure they follow the guidelines of wearing a mask, wash their hands, carry a bottle of hand sanitizer when they are out and about, check temperatures at least once a day and watch for any symptoms that may relate to COVID-19.

A few veterans do not have a phone but need to make appointments or a visiting nurse comes to see them, so I’m their point of contact to assist with making the appointment or relaying a message. Some veterans have no computer skills, so when they need to do something online or send out a document, I assist them.

Why are you committed to this cause?
Although I am not a veteran, my dad and several uncles served. Also, I was working with the former Employment Coordinator here at VNEOC when I was in staffing, sending him job opportunities to share with the veterans he was assisting. I got to know our former Executive Director John Ratka and learned what VNEOC was doing to assist homeless veteran and make their lives better. I really enjoy helping others — whether it’s for employment or encouraging them to be the best they can be. Now that I have been with VNEOC for 2 ½ years, I am very happy I made the choice to come here. I believe it was my calling to finish my career.

What do you hope the general public can better understand about the VNEOC mission?
I would like the public to know that VNEOC’s goal is to do our best with ending homelessness for the Veteran population. These veterans need a 2nd and sometimes 3rd chance in life to develop a better quality of life. They want to thrive within the communities they live in. When a veteran has a solid foundation in life, they want to give back to others who have had similar struggles in their life and show them there is a chance to do better and feel better.

Rachel Hagen

Rachel Hagen

What is your name, job title and how long you have worked at VNOC?
Rachel Hagen, LCSW- TIP Program Manager, and I started here on January 6 of this year.

What do you do in your role at VNOC?
I oversee case management, compliance with grant and VA, daily operations.

What made you want to work here?
I hold a special place in my heart for veterans. I have many family members who have served in the Army, Navy, and Air Force. Veterans served our country and it’s an honor for me to serve them.

What has surprised you about your job or VNOC?
What has surprised me about working at VNOC is the equal opportunity to both share my expertise and learn from others. I feel truly valued as a team member even though I am not a veteran myself. I think this speaks volumes of the organizations commitment to excellence in service by having a multidisciplinary team.

Are there any misconceptions about your program or what you do that you would like to dispel?
The most common misconception about TIP is that it is a homeless shelter. TIP is the “finish line” of achieving stability and permanent housing. VNOC offers many programs for all stages in achieving a veterans goals. If a veteran applicant is not quite ready for the “finish line” then I re- refer to another program that can support them where they currently are at.