Staff Spotlight: Tamika Levels-Hood, VP of Homeless Services

When Tamika Levels-Hood, Vice President of Homeless Services, started college she was not entirely sure what she wanted to do. She only knew that she wanted to help others. At first, she thought she wanted to be an attorney focusing on social justice. Instead, her college experience guided her toward a career with more hands-on social services work.

“I had, without my parents knowing, changed my major from English to Sociology, and I took a minor in Criminal Justice,” said Ms. Levels-Hood. “And I definitely waited awhile to tell them.”

Ms. Levels-Hood began her career at Volunteers of America Delaware Valley in August of 2005 as a Case Manager at the Aletha R. Wright “Vision of Hope” Center – the shelter serving adult males experiencing homelessness in Camden County. She initially had aspirations to work at the reentry program Hope Hall because of her educational background. However, Homeless Services ended up being a perfect fit, as she quickly moved up the ranks due to her dedication to her clients.

“Initially, I was like ‘I don’t know if I want to do this,’” remembers Ms. Levels-Hood whose boyfriend – now husband — had gotten the Hope Hall position she applied for. “But then it wasn’t even six months before I got my first promotion.”

Within three years, Ms. Levels-Hood was named Director of the Eleanor Corbett House which serves Gloucester County families experiencing homelessness. Ultimately, she was named Regional Director – overseeing Aletha R. Wright, Eleanor Corbett, and the Anna Sample House Complex, which serves families and women experiencing homelessness in Camden County.

Ms. Levels-Hood was then promoted to the role as Vice President of Homeless Services in 2018. This put under her the direction of every homeless shelter in the organization – there were six at the time – as well as the supportive housing division. The position doesn’t let her get into the programs to be hands on with clients as much as she would like, but it does allow for innovation and program-building. Writing grants, developing staff, and identifying gaps in services is a big part of Ms. Levels-Hood’s day-to-day.

“You have to bring the resources to the people, because if you send them out and say ‘oh here’s the resource, go to this agency, something may stop them from getting there,” Ms. Levels-Hood explained. “It might have been a physical delay, but 9 times out of 10, it is something mental or psychological that just deters them from taking 100 percent of the steps, even when the resources are provided. So, we’re looking to expand bringing those resources directly to our clients.”

More than anything, Ms. Levels-Hood wants people to know about the services that are out there and know about the ways they can help.

“We also have an obligation to teach people about homelessness. I think it reduces the stigma people have, or the reservations they have around homeless people,” said Ms. Levels-Hood. “They’re just people going through a hard time.

“Any of us could be going through the same thing. We just have a house.”

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