Behind the Mask: Hero for the Homeless During the COVID-19 Crisis
The Drive to Help Others Comes From Personal Experience
Behind every facemask, there is a story. Angela Randall serves as the Regional Director of Housing Services for many of Volunteers of America Delaware Valley’s housing facilities around the region. From Lindenwold Towers, Waterfront Village and Brittin Village to Homestead at Harmony, Christine’s Corner and Moving Forward, Angela works closely with her staff members to secure temporary and permanent housing for some of our communities’ most vulnerable individuals: individuals experiencing homelessness, senior citizens, veterans and those suffering from chronic mental illness.
While it may seem like tremendous responsibility for only one woman, those who know Angela know she is perfect for this role.
“I can’t ignore the spiritual calling for what I do professionally,” she explains. “I remember being in a house fire years ago and losing everything. Afterwards, I was forced to ask for help and assistance for me and my sons…[and] many of the programs I reached out to were unable to help me and my family. So, after I got back on my feet, I decided to go to school for social work and learn more about the counseling and psychology needed to better assist individuals in need.”
Angela began working for VOADV in 2014 as Tenant Resource Counselor in Philadelphia before being promoted to Director, overseeing more of VOADV’s supportive housing facilities and programs. She is a natural born leader, inspiring her staff to work harder and dig in deeper. Driven by her empathy and deep-rooted desire to help others, Angela fiercely tackles challenges head-on – never wavering, always looking for a better solution. Her work is characterized by creativity and passion, as well as a relentless tenacity to help those in need.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Angela’s creativity and innate leadership skills were called upon in a different capacity. She was asked to manage a new residential program developed by VOADV and Camden County to utilize a local hotel to house and care for homeless individuals who tested positive for COVID-19. Those in need were referred from local shelters and hospitals, including Cooper University Health Care, Virtua Hospital, Jefferson Health and Joseph's House of Camden. The project provided temporary shelter for these individuals, so that they may isolate and recuperate in a clean, safe environment while receiving closely monitored medical care.
As the manager of the project, Angela was entrusted to safely and effectively manage the facility, staff and patients while ensuring all cleaning, sanitation and safe distancing protocols were strictly enforced and maintained.
“I use my counseling experience – my ‘problem-solving hat,’ my ‘nurturing hat,’ my ‘guiding hat’ – to help break down the stigma of COVID-19 and treat these individuals to the best of our abilities,” Angela explains. “Just because these individuals were sleeping on the street or staying in a shelter does not mean they are not qualified to go through this process with care, understanding and even love.”
To Angela and her team of compassionate, problem-solving professionals, every individual entrusted to their care was treated equally and with the utmost care and respect.
“These individuals may be someone’s uncle, brother, sister, mother or child,” she explains. “We treat patients as we would want our own loved ones treated – as someone who we have genuinely come to know and care about as another human being. They are relying on us and our compassionate care to help address a problem they cannot otherwise solve by themselves.”
Thanks to Angela and her staff’s tireless work, more than 30 individuals experiencing homelessness received quality care and services needed to make a full recovery. Those who were previously living on the street were transitioned into new homes after their recovery – one individual was even able to reunify with his family in South Carolina!
As a key member of the VOADV family, we could not be prouder of Angela’s hard work and inspired by her tireless dedication to serve those in need during this crisis, no matter the obstacles or challenges.
Read more about our employees’ efforts to assist struggling families and individuals on the frontlines of COVID-19 at: www.voadv.org/behindthemask. Learn more about the opening of South Jersey’s first program to aid homeless individuals recuperating from COVID-19 by visiting: https://www.voadv.org/stories/covid-recuperation.