When a client arrives at Harmony House, they often come with only what they could carry after fleeing a dangerous situation. That’s when they meet donations coordinator Lisa Christy.
“Upon intake, I am able to provide them with clothing, shoes, toiletries and hygiene items, as well as some of the little extras that make them feel safe, like a warm blanket and toy for our youngest residents,” she says. “It’s so fulfilling to see a resident pick out items for themselves, many of which haven’t had the freedom to choose for themselves in years.”
Christy began working at Harmony House, which has helped 21,200 clients since 1976, after pivoting from a career in real estate in 2017. Her role as donations coordinator includes managing donated items, supervising the donation center and boutique, helping residents locate what they need and building sustainable partnerships with local donors. She often takes residents on “shopping” sprees to pick out clothes for job interviews or to find items for their new homes when they leave the shelter.
“There are so many rewarding aspects to my job,” Christy says. “I get the chance to work with our clients and witness the growth that happens while living at Harmony House.”
Harmony House uses the Full Frame Initiative model, based on the five domains of well-being: safety, stability, mastery, social connectedness and meaningful access to relevant resources. Christy’s work embodies the final domain, and she integrates the others into her work. She was instrumental in restructuring how the donations center operates to organize residents and donors on an updated appointment calendar. She also developed the Holiday Box initiative to focus the influx of holiday donations on critical, timely needs of individual residents.
“Each box was customized to the resident with their favorite color, character, team or hobby,” Christy says. “This provided residents with gifts they really wanted and came complete with a place to store them. The Holiday Boxes were extremely popular, and we were able to fill them quickly.”
Educating donors on how to give most effectively is a passion for Christy. She manages countless donations from both regular and occasional donors throughout the year, including partnering with other local nonprofits to share items based on need or excess.
“I have built close relationships with many individual donors, community groups and area businesses to increase and streamline the flow of donations and to fill supply needs,” she says. “Building and nurturing these relationships has provided a steady flow of items that are needed weekly.”
Christy manages approximately 20 volunteers on a weekly basis. Throughout the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, she says the volunteer base and dedicated employees maintained service at Harmony House.
“Watching them continue to show up, no matter how challenging the day before was, they continue to bring it and give from the heart every day,” Christy says.
But it’s the residents who keep her most inspired, she says, because she gets to share kindness every day.
“The courage I witness from our residents fuels my passion to make a difference,” she says. “No matter how small, like sharing a new pair of socks, it is important to me that they know someone cares about their well-being and that they deserve to feel safe and to live a life free from abuse.”
Shoppers who head to Battlefield Mall for holiday gifts have a new option that doesn’t require gift wrap and won’t take up much trunk space.