While interning at ACCESS, I worked in their housing division. During my shifts I would come into the home and greet the people we were serving that live in the shelter. I would then go into the office and roll the CRISIS phone line to myself. I would then let the caller know if we had room for them or if they qualified. I would then offer them resources and referrals for other shelters and services if we were not able to assist them. I would handle CRISIS phone calls and fill out a housing assessment on each caller or a call sheet. I looked up resources for my clients like free activities in the area, cheap housing, affordable childcare, food pantries, and free and cheap clothing resources. I also counseled the people we served, and built trusting relationships with them. I gave them donated supplies when they asked and documented what I gave. I also assisted with daily cleaning of the houses and helped on full cleaning days where we turned over houses and apartments for new clients.
The greatest accomplishment from my experience was being able to take CRISIS phone line calls and handle the trauma that comes with them. Some of the calls are very triggering and at times you feel helpless when you have to turn someone away because we have no room. It is also very difficult when someone yells at you and tells you that you’re the reason they might die on the streets. That was the hardest phone call for me. I had to learn how to use boundaries and tell myself that we offer the victims what we have available. Every phone call after that, I was able to put an emotional wall up and offer resources and referrals without taking their anger to heart.
What advice would you give?
My advice for future students would be to make sure you reach out to multiple internships because the one you want might take forever to get back to you and could finally reject you because your schedule doesn’t fit theirs. I would also suggest to start your hours earlier if you work full time or just have a busy schedule.