A Day In The Life: Karen Gilliam, ISSI Office Manager

“You make it possible.” This is the theme of our 125th anniversary and an undisputed fact throughout all of VOADV’s programs. Our incredible staff are the ones who make everything we do possible, serving each day with compassion and dedication. Every member of the VOADV family has a story and a unique perspective in their role.

Meet Karen Gilliam – a VOADV team member for 11 years, and the Integrated Services Supporting Independence (ISSI) Office Manager for the past eight. ISSI is a residential program for individuals diagnosed with a mental illness that provides case management, treatment, rehabilitation, and community reintegration. In her position, Karen manages program spending, handles client’s budgets, keeps the office running smoothly, and much more.

Karen’s day includes many of the “behind the scenes” tasks necessary to a program and its clients. When she gets to ISSI in the morning, she might take inventory of regularly used supplies that might need reordering, as well as keep up with details others might not think of – such as checking on the batteries for the remote. Throughout the day, Karen is also focused on the office operations like sorting program mail, updating the client census and covering the front desk.

“My favorite part of my job is being around to help in any way that I can,” she said. “I do a lot of different things and I like seeing the impact that I am able to have on the program and our clients.”

Another significant part of Karen’s role is managing money. This includes everything from organizing shopping receipts, overseeing the program spending budget, and managing client’s funds. She keeps up with room and board bills, as well as budgeting and dispersing Walk Around Money (WAM) to clients. WAM funds are about $40 – $60 per week for a client’s personal use – typically used on hygiene items, something like a belt or wallet, a meal at a day program, etc.

While the Office Manager position does not directly work with clients, the interactions Karen does have are vital, behind the scenes.

“I think my role makes it a little easier to notice things differently than other staff and gives me a different perspective,” Karen says. “If a client is becoming more passive, if a new client is having trouble adjusting or anything like that – I’ll notify a case manager and make sure it is addressed.”

Karen’s hard work, thoughtfulness, and dedication is the perfect example of how our staff makes what we do possible. Without the attention and love Karen gives to her job day in and day out, it could be easier for certain things to go unnoticed. And Karen isn’t alone. Every single member of our staff community works daily to not just do their jobs to the fullest, but to also reach our clients with the humanity and compassion needed to make a positive impact in client’s lives.

To learn more about ISSI and our specialized services, visit https://www.voadv.org/specializedservices.

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