You have to believe in abundance. Believe that you have more to give and by doing so more will come into your life. It’s the law of the universe. Like attracts like.
In life the more you give, the more you receive. It’s simple to say, not always as easy to do because life comes at you hard and fast. But if you can slow it down, peel away your outer layers and open your heart, then others win.
An abundant heart will have quite a story to tell.
Everyone has a story.
I am Mark Brodinsky and this is Storytelling for Nonprofits.
Storytelling for Nonprofits: Perfect Match
Some of us have a song in our hearts, others can actually carry a tune. Nicolette Thompson can do both. She’s a professional singer and shares songs of love and hope – but her first love is her work – at HealthCare Access Maryland.
“One of my greatest accomplishments in life is to be of service,” says Nicolette. “Before I joined HCAM I was kind of in a place where I had a hard time getting stable. I had lots of challenges with different jobs. But since I joined HCAM I’m in a place where I can provide meaningful service and I am so happy with my work.”
For a long time, happiness was a fleeting thought for Nicolette.
“I can identify with many of the people I serve at HCAM,” says Nicolette. “I’m originally from South Africa and grew up with my aunt and my family, kind of like a kinship foster program. My mom was not around, nor was my biological father. I can empathize with the foster kids here in Maryland, experiencing those feelings of rejection, of not really belonging. I grew up with a lot of negativity spoken to me, that I would never amount to anything, that I was stupid and worth nothing. I feel like it crushed me and it took a long time to start believing in myself. But over the years my confidence grew and now I say I can do all things if I just believe in me.”
A big part of Nicolette’s confidence is from overcoming the struggle of her youth, finding her voice in the church and the opportunity to come to America. It’s been nearly two decades since a pastor from Colorado was visiting South Africa, saw the work Nicolette was doing to help young adults in the church, heard her sing and decided to make arrangements for her to come to the US.
Yet even that process was a struggle.
“I got a letter officially inviting me to come to the U.S. to work with young people at the church,” she says. “I went to the immigration office and the interviewer asked me questions like, ‘do you have a house, a husband, children…?’, “my answers were ‘no’, so he said you can’t go, shut the window and walked away. I was speechless. I couldn’t or wouldn’t talk to anyone for a long time. I went home and pulled the covers over my head and said, ‘I’m not going.’ But after hearing what happened, the pastor got me another interview. This one was completely different. The female interviewer talked to me like a person and they eventually got me over here on a student visa.”
At age 25, Nicolette arrived in America, was taken in by a family in Colorado, attended college, graduated from Pueblo Community College. While on a visit to Baltimore she also met and fell in love with a man named PJ, the two worked a long-distance relationship, until Nicolette eventually made her way to Maryland.
Now she works as a care coordinator for the Match Program at HealthCare Access Maryland. Nicolette and her team provide care coordination with caregivers and the Department of Social Services, to make sure that the clients-in-need, especially children, get to their important medical appointments, help handle issues with medical assistance and more.
HCAM is a nonprofit agency that connects residents to public health care coverage and helps them navigate services, including people experiencing homelessness. They also focus on the needs of pregnant and postpartum women, youth in foster care, people with substance abuse, individuals recently released from jail, and others. Each year the nonprofit also connects more than 145,000 uninsured and under-insured clients to health insurance, healthcare, and vital community resources – resources that are critically vital to the existence of the communities they serve. (http://www.healthcareaccessmaryland.org/)
“We work with the caregivers to make sure these children get the care they deserve,” says Nicolette. “Families get frustrated with caregivers not hearing them out, or have trouble finding someone to listen to their concerns. Too many professional and service providers just put a band-aid on the situation. I like the whole problem-solving process. Someone calls me and says ‘I have this issue, I don’t know what to do.’ ” I tell them if I can’t help them I will direct them to someone who can. I do the job with a smile on my face because you don’t know what the person on the other side of the phone is going through. But making sure all the children are healthy, that’s the mission.”
Nicolette says what she and so many at HCAM strive to do is to go above and beyond. (http://www.healthcareaccessmaryland.org/working-at-hcam/career-opportunties-at-hcam/)
“I had this one woman call me and when she initially started talking she was very angry. She was screaming and shouting and I just went quiet. I let her vent and she went off… I stayed quiet and she finally said, ‘hello, are you still there?’ “I said yes, I’m just letting you speak. I want you to know I heard everything you said and I want to ask you how I can help you, so we can fix this issue. The woman was just frustrated with the whole situation. I said I understand what’s going on with your daughter and I will help to make sure she and your grandchildren are taken care of. I wrote down everything the woman said she had problems with. After I hung up, two minutes later my phone rang and the woman says, ‘I just wanted to call back and apologize. I didn’t mean to scream at you because you are not the cause of the issues.’ “I told her that’s why we are here, to serve you. I can certainly take five minutes out of my day to bless you and make sure you are OK. I ended up helping them and stayed in touch to make sure what we were doing is what she needed and to coordinate it all with social services.”
It’s not only the clients Nicolette enjoys helping, it’s also the people she is surrounded by every day, her co-workers and those on her team who Nicolette says make HCAM such a great place to serve. “Oh my goodness, they are a lovely bunch of people,” says Nicolette. “It’s a pleasure to work with everyone. They are serious, they are motivated to serve and come in every day do the work that’s necessary to make sure these children are well-cared for. It’s not easy. Some are moderate cases, some are high-risk children with a lot of medical issues. Some workers have to deal with children getting procedures in the hospital. It can get very emotional because you are working with the families and providing care for the children and sometimes it’s hard to separate yourself from that. I feel like if I have a case, then this is my child too.”
Nicolette credits her director Kim Floyd for helping her to get to the position she currently holds. Nicolette has been at HCAM for six years now and says it was Kim who encouraged her to do more. “I used to be an entrance coordinator,” says Nicolette. “When I expressed interest in the care coordination team, Kim told me to ‘go for it.’ “She really motivated me and it happened!”
And it’s all happening for Nicolette in a big way. She thinks big, works hard and has a powerful voice, not just at her job, but in the church as well, singing at the Abundant Life Kingdom Ministries in Jessup, Maryland.
“Our mission is to make Maryland healthy, just like the children we serve in foster care,” says Nicolette. “What I do adds value to the agency and my strength comes from everything that I have endured and overcome through the years. Serving others makes me a better person and I am glad that I am part of HealthCare Access Maryland which allows me to do that.
If I can encourage anyone out there, just because someone tells you something doesn’t mean that’s who you are. You can do anything. As a man thinks, so he is. You deserve everything good. I deserve it, you deserve it. Some people feel they don’t. That’s not the truth. If I didn’t have the courage to say I want to be here, I wouldn’t have made it. You should love yourself… and you should dream.”
Until next time, thanks for taking the time.
Want a career with HCAM? http://www.healthcareaccessmaryland.org/working-at-hcam/career-opportunties-at-hcam/
To make a donation, visit: https://healthcareaccessmaryland.mypaysimple.com/s/donate-now