Staff Spotlight: Aleah “Firecracker” Reed and Sherri “Get it Done” Scroggins, Community Health Workers

Trauma-informed care has a much deeper meaning to Aleah Reed and Sherri Scroggins, who just completed the Community Health Worker Certification Program offered by Health Impact Ohio and received certification through the Ohio Board of Nursing. These two dynamic staff members have been hustling to get residents connected to medical appointments and housing. Known around Joseph & Mary’s Home as “Firecracker” and “Get it Done,” Aleah and Sherri played key roles in connecting five residents to housing in the month of June (which is a great number for one month).

What was the biggest takeaway from the Community Health Worker (CHW) training?

Aleah: Everything. I knew going into the training that what we were learning would pertain to my job. I’ve been winging it and have had a lot of success. Now, I have more checklists about what questions to ask or obstacles to consider when helping residents look for housing, like if there is a bus line or parking.

Sherri: Before the class, I didn’t totally know what a Community Health Worker was. The class really broadened my understanding of the work. I also learned where to quickly find links to housing, food assistance and other resources.

How have you incorporated trauma-informed care in your work?

Aleah: I focus on meeting people where they are. You want them to make all the right decisions. And when they don’t, I have to focus on remembering that it is not about me, it is about them. You got to know you are there to help and there cannot be any judgement. It’s their decision.

Sherri: I’m very new to the industry. For me, it’s giving them respect. The doors are closed for them all the time. So when they come to my desk and I am doing something, I stop and listen. Because Joseph & Mary’s Home residents have had doors shut on them every day. I want to give them respect.

Trauma-informed care also means taking care of yourself.

Sherri: One of the biggest takeaways from class is how much self-care is involved in what we do. I worked in home health care my whole life and I never did self-care. In this job, I’m so busy hustling to help others. I need to make sure I am eating lunch, drinking water. These are the small things.

Aleah: The challenge is knowing the work doesn’t stop. There is always more to do when we close our computers for the day. When we leave, we have kids and older family members who we are taking care of. I’m dead tired. I have never thought to take a self-care day.

Even though the class was online, you really built a community and had deep conversations about health equity.

Sherri: The class was so good. Our teacher was amazing. She was so knowledgeable about slavery and the history of racism. She gave it to you raw and told you the facts. I didn’t know a lot of this history. It was really deep. It probably made some folks uncomfortable. It was important conversations for us to have together.

Aleah: I wrote my paper on White Coat Syndrome and how a doctor might treat a patient who is black and experiencing homelessness differently. As a CHW, my role is to help residents advocate and ask questions to better understand their health conditions. Doctors can use medical language that doesn’t make sense to a lay person. Appointments can be rushed and residents come in knowing the power dynamic. I was moved to tears the other day when a doctor met with one of our residents and gave him a big hug and said, “I’ve been looking for you and wondering if you are alright.”

Congrats to Aleah Reed and Sherri Scroggins on earning your Community Health Worker Certification! Thank you for all of your hard work to help Joseph & Mary’s Home resident get back to health and move forward to housing.