Meet the Staff is a monthly feature. Today, meet Mai Choua Yang, housing programs family advocate with our Families Moving Forward program. (She's pictured at right, with colleagues staffing a check-in table at The Journey Home.)
How long have you worked at Beacon (or any of its previous incarnations)?
I’ve been with Beacon, specifically Families Moving Forward, for about four to five years. I’ve lost count to be honest.
Describe your job - not necessarily your official job description but what you really do every day.
Every day is a surprise here. I currently work with the housing program families so I get to experience their transition back into stable housing. Because every family is unique, meetings with my clients vary from quiet catch-up time in their living room to running around the city getting appointments taken care of. In addition, I get to know the families in shelter. The staff is constantly working on assisting families to increase income, find housing, work through family concerns, navigate through the county system, and playing with the children who fill the Day Center with happy noise.
Why do you like working here?
The job is rewarding. Families trust us to enter their lives and help them through a difficult time. Getting to know the families and seeing their success makes it worth it and enjoyable.
What’s one thing you are most proud of about your work?
I’m proud of having families that had no idea who I was one week ago, trust me with a very vulnerable part of their lives. The ability to create trust and a positive relationship with families in such a short amount of time is not always easy.
What kind of job would you have if you weren’t so busy helping to end homelessness?
I am working on my master's degree in marriage and family therapy, so I would probably be focusing on becoming a therapist. The other option would be to become an artist of some kind. I love creating things.
What is your favorite book, movie, comedian, play, sport, pastime?
I absolutely love Kevin Hart and John Mulaney. They make me laugh out loud. I absolutely love live theater and nothing has ever quite topped Wicked for me. I am a big fan of children's books and have a small collection at home of classics such as The Little Prince, Harold and the Purple Crayon, the Giving Tree and If You Give A Mouse A Cookie. Whenever possible, I like being the favorite aunt and taking my five- and four-year-old nephews on mini dates or creating toys for them to play with. Recently I went to Home Depot, spent around five bucks on PVC pipes and created a shooting range after I found nerf guns on sale at Target for six bucks! Hours of fun!
What is something that most people don’t know about you?
I spent several years before Beacon doing spoken word poetry and performing on a regular basis. I was part of two collectives where we would travel to places and perform. I still love to write.