You never know just how big your heart can grow. Love is infinite, so is human potential. Fight, survive, thrive, give.
In all of life’s challenges if you hold onto faith and hope you will overcome. The skies do clear, the sun does shine and your light can be a beacon for others to follow.
Create your story and share it to impact the world.
Everyone has a story.
I am Mark Brodinsky and this Storytelling for Nonprofits.
Storytelling for Nonprofits: Be A Blessing
“My mom always made a way out of no way. I always loved and respected her for that. No matter where you start out in life you can grow and take advantage of opportunities presented.” – Elsie Goodwin
Elsie knows living is giving. She watched her own mother, a teenage parent, fight to make a life for them. Elsie says her mom fought to handle all the challenges of being a young mom – holding down multiple jobs to make ends meet, moved around a lot because of different employment opportunities, enrolling Elsie in multiple schools and utilizing her own parents to make sure Elsie had caring hearts to help her to grow. Elsie says the extra time spent with her grandparents was a blessing in disguise.
“I got a lot of my work ethic from my grandparents and my mom,” says Elsie. “My grandfather did not have the benefit of a great education, but he was a very successful professional truck driver. My grandmother was involved in foster care, taking care of kids. I’ve reaped the benefits of caring for children in my present job, being able to affect their young lives. From my grandparents and my mom I learned to be kind to other people. From childhood I always had an appreciation for hard work and giving back, which I know has been a great benefit to me in helping others because there were times in my life I needed help to move forward.”
Kindness is at the core of Elsie’s life. She serves as Director of Operations for Healthcare Access Maryland. HCAM is a nonprofit agency that connects residents to public health care coverage and helps them navigate services effectively. The programs are designed to bridge gaps in services to pregnant and postpartum women, immigrants, people experiencing homelessness, youth in foster care, people with substance use disorders, 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, health care, and vital community resources. (http://www.healthcareaccessmaryland.org/)
As Director of Operations, Elsie is in charge of handling nearly anything and everything to keep the agency running efficiently. Elsie started her run with the organization back in 2000 when it was Baltimore Healthcare Access, and didn’t even realize that the agency was the hub for many of the services that had already benefited her family when she was in need, like MCHIP, (Maryland Children’s Health Insurance Program). Elsie left the organization for a period of time and has recently returned to take on a leadership role and share her own experiences to make other people’s lives better.
“What drives us, (she and the HCAM team), is really making families healthier,” says Elsie. “Educating them about resources available to them and helping them to see they are valued. I wake up every day knowing I can impact someone else’s life. I love being there for my team as well. I provide infrastructure and support for them to do their job.”
The “job” for the team at HCAM always goes above and beyond. Elsie says she has plenty of stories where she or her team jumped into help someone in need at the drop of a hat. “Often times I receive calls,” says Elsie. “I oversee many agency lines and programs and have consumers who call in on the line. This one consumer was very frustrated and candid about where they were in life. I could just hear she needed help. She said she had gone to so many organizations and was lost. I spoke to her, calmed her down and directed her to the right program within HCAM, provided a warm transfer and the director jumped into action and I followed up with the director later in the day. By then the disposition of the consumer had changed and she sounded better. It’s all about helping moms and dads with those challenges, from housing, food assistance, clothing, healthcare, just providing someone with what they need. Just by directing that specific consumer to the best resource in the company I made an impact. It’s amazing something as small as a phone call can really impact a life. We are all dedicated to doing it.”
In Elsie’s personal life it’s also about continuing that nurturing spirit.
“My greatest accomplishment in life is being a mom,” says Elsie. “Since my mom was a teenage parent it created certain challenges in my life because of her age, now that I am blessed to be the mother of two, I appreciate having this opportunity. Not everyone gets this opportunity, (to be a mother), so I take it very seriously, being able to provide for them in a way I did not get to experience. I love helping them to grow into future leaders and be involved in the quality of their lives. Both kids are amazing athletes. My son wants to be an engineer, my daughter toggles between pediatrician and lawyer. I told them life is fluid. You don’t have to pick one thing and do it until the end of time. Experience new things and see what is a good fit. Life is not meant to be something that’s limited.”
Leading her family is a major force in Elsie’s life, but so is being a leader at HCAM. “I love being a leader at the organization,” says Elsie. “Our portfolio is amazing. We’ve got access to mental health programs, substance abuse, health insurance. There’s even a niche for workforce development. So many of our consumers are truly talented, but because of life experiences they didn’t get formal training or mentorship, or exposure to workforce development. They are eager to provide for their family and advance in life, but they might not have all of those tools. It’s not a robust area for us, we outsource a lot of that, but we are working on making that part of our niche offerings.”
Living is giving. Giving in the work you do and giving to make other lives better. For Elsie it’s also about belief in yourself and faith. “My faith has been my ongoing foundation,” she says. “Whether it’s thinking back to my early beginnings, to now, to appreciate the blessings I have – my faith is very much a part of my daily life in how I treat people and respect people. I wake up wanting to be a blessing to someone else – it can be as simple as saying, ‘how are you?’ with a smile and how I approach my work and just being kind to others. That’s lost in society today. I teach my children to be grateful and humble. I do the same. I want people to know the motivation behind my work, and do a great job for the organization.
“But it’s a higher calling you must serve – it’s how you are treat people and help those in need, without the desire to get anything in return. My work is my service. And of course my children are my world, they mean everything to me. From the moment I wake up, I thank God for another day. There is always someone out there less fortunate than you. If I’m able to help someone in their life then that is really a blessing to me.”
To learn more about Healthcare Access Maryland, visit, http://www.healthcareaccessmaryland.org/
For more inspiring stories and to have Mark Brodinsky share your story to help your business or non-profit visit, http://markbrodinsky.life/