Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Passage Home's Lisa Otis' Success: Full Circle From Homeless to Volunteer

Name:  Lisa Otis

What is your job? Volunteer and Donations Coordinator at Passage Home, a nonprofit organization dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty in families and neighborhoods.

What social causes are most important to you?
First and foremost, I am truly passionate to serve women and children. The specific causes that are most important to me are fair employment of the formerly incarcerated and women’s prison re-entry programs.

How do you support Passage Home?
I support Passage Home and their mission every day, in my job, as a volunteer, and as a donor. It is very important that I give of my time and financially.
Why do you have a passion for this one in particular, is there a personal tie?
I think most people have a deep-seeded passion for the organizations that they choose to support and I am no different. I know firsthand the amazing work that Passage Home does, because I was a participant in their transitional housing program and received their services. They provided me with a place to live and services to help me with a variety of skills, parenting classes, and recovery. Passage Home’s goal is to help everyone become self-sufficient; standing on their own two feet. I have come full circle and completed this goal. I have a great job, two beautiful daughters, am engaged to a wonderful guy, and own a home!

Is there a particular way you would want to encourage readers to be involved?
Number 1 – recognize that there is no stereotypical face of someone that is homeless. It can happen to anyone. Also, there is no way to look at someone and know whether or not they have ever been to prison. I speak to groups often and they are shocked to find out that I once was in prison and did not have a home at one point in my life. Everyone has a story… and everyone has made mistakes in their life. Passage Home gave me a second chance and hope. I invite everyone to follow what we are doing and get involved in whatever way they can. We have many programs targeted to help homeless and low-income families, children, and so forth, as well as the program that I participated in – the women’s re-entry program. If you have a passion to support these groups, I encourage you to contact us.  

How would you define social responsibility?
It is everyone’s duty to make an impact, whether to one person or to many, no matter how big or small.

Do you have any tattoos that relate to your social work? 
While none of my tattoos specifically relate to my charitable work, I do have a tattoo that serves as a reminder of the most challenging time in my life. It is on my right shoulder, so it is still there, but I don’t have to see it all the time… it is behind me. I plan to cover it this month with another tattoo – displaying two doves meant to represent my children and the date that I decided to change my life.

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