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Step Up | Rhonda W.’s Story
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Rhonda W.’s Story
Rhonda W.’s Story

My name is Rhonda Lynn Wise, and I’m a Peer Advocate at Daniel’s Place.  

About 10 years ago I found myself in a situation that I never thought I would be in; I was homeless. Through no fault of my own, a matter of circumstances that led me to that state. I was terrified. I knew absolutely nothing about what being homeless meant, nor where to find resources to help me in my situation. It was either sink or swim, and I decided to swim. A friend told me about a place in Los Angeles called PATH (People Assisting The Homeless). Through a case manager, I was able to be placed in a very nice, Catholic-run shelter called Good Shepherd. I then was placed in The Salvation Army’s Bell Shelter, which is where I was able to save money in order to get a place of my own. During this time, however, I began to self-medicate. I was using street drugs because I thought if I could numb myself I wouldn’t have to feel the pain I was going through from being homeless, estranged from my family and embarrassed about my situation. I never thought that I would experience homelessness in my lifetime: I’m a college graduate from a wonderful family, I have supportive friends, and I have a strong faith in God. Homelessness was my hidden fear, and now I was facing it. 

Throughout the time I was homeless, I always felt the need to help others by passing on any information about resources, sharing a meal, or just spending time talking to other homeless people who needed someone to talk to. All the while, I knew when I got back on my feet that I wanted to give back. Once I got into a home of my own, I began to focus on my life. I started attending NA meetings and other self-help groups. I found strength in going and, little by little, I began to see improvements in my life and prospects for my future. 

In 2014, I completed a Peer Leadership Training Program at the Westside Center for Independent Living and received a certificate and an accommodation from Mayor Eric Garcetti for my volunteerism with the homeless community of Los Angeles. I knew I wanted to work with the homeless population and began to pursue a position with Step Up on Second. Early in 2017, I worked with Malcolm Carter who referred me to Daniel’s Place. After meeting with Maria Jeffery and finding out about the wonderful resources available to the TAY and the Young Adult community who are members, I was offered a position as a Peer Advocate in August of 2017. Daniel’s Place staff and the members are pretty awesome. We are a dynamic team, and I’m excited every day I come to work. I feel that my life experiences prepared me to affectively help the population we service at Daniel’s Place. 

In 2018, I’m on track to finish my Master’s Degree in order to have growth potential with Step Up on Second. I want very much to be a part of this organization in the best possible way I can. I look forward to being involved and giving back because it enriches me and gives me a great sense of purpose. I love what I’m doing and I love where I work. 

Sincerely, 

Rhonda Lynn Wise 

Peer Advocate at Daniel’s Place

An Important Message from Step Up

Dear Supporters, Volunteers and Trusted Community Partners,

We wanted to take a moment to let you know Step Up is actively monitoring the COVID-19 status in the communities we work. We are relieved to report that as of this writing, there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 in the Step Up Community. Step Up is taking measures to both protect employees' health and welfare, and to advance its critical mission to serve its most at-risk members. During this time, members will continue to need our support and we expect to continue to provide the exemplary level of support and services we have become known for in our community.

In an abundance of caution, Step Up is taking the following immediate steps to curtail the spread of the virus and to keep its staff, members and volunteers as safe and as healthy as possible during this period of unknown impact:

  • All volunteer activities at all sites are halted for a minimum of two weeks.
  • Managers are empowered to work with staff to curtail activities that may put them or members at risk. This includes the possibility of remote work when feasible, phone or telehealth meetings with members as necessary, avoiding transporting members in personal or company vehicles - the advancement of our mission is paramount;
  • Program staff will be trained on how to utilize company phone apps to effectively communicate with members and each other as necessary;
  • We have asked staff if they or an immediate family member is experiencing flu-like symptoms, to not report to any office location, contact their manager on how to proceed, and seek medical attention immediately.

While many public and private spaces have curtailed operations for the time being, Step Up will remain operational and will continue serving its clients. Again, it is important to note that NO ONE IN THE STEP UP COMMUNITY HAS TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID-19. Our goal is to keep it that way for as long as possible.

Please contact us by email or phone before coming to one of our locations. Support from our community is especially vital now as operations are re-aligned to adhere to our mission while keeping staff, members and volunteers safe. Please consider making a donation as we work through this difficult time. Your contributions in any amount ensure that Step Up will continue serving our most vulnerable neighbors, who are especially vulnerable during this community health crisis. Do not hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have.

Stay safe and healthy,
Tod Lipka
President & CEO