Journey Home was delighted to have Yasmine Ali join our team a year ago as the Employment Training VISTA working to implement an employment process through collaborative efforts with the City of Hartford, partner agencies and Shelter providers.  The goal of the Hartford Homeless Employment Strategy is to integrate the Hartford Shelter Employment Specialists and other Shelter staff into the work being done by the American Jobs Center, Bureau of Rehabilitation Service, the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and other Employment Service providers and should result in the employment system (training and support) being better coordinated, operating more effectively and efficiently, increasing the number of shelter residents finding and securing employment and decreasing the time spent securing employment. Because of Yasmine’s tireless efforts, Journey Home will now be able to manage a commone employment assessment and work with our partners to secure employment for those experiencing homelessness.


Yasmine has been awarded a full scholarship to attend New York University in the fall to pursue a dual Master of Public Administration (MPA) in Public and Nonprofit Management and Policy and a Master of Social Work (MSW). Yasmine tells us, “The work I’ve done this year will serve as a starting point for a lifetime devoted to service. I have been privileged enough to work with dedicated people on the front lines in shelters, as well as the behind the scene workers who are the driving force for many initiatives and programs. I hope to use my experiences to better serve those experiencing homelessness and extreme poverty.”  We wish you all the best, Yasmine!


Emmett Ruff moved from Minnesota to Hartford to join our team as the SOAR VISTA.  He spent the last year working to strengthen the SOAR initiative in Greater Hartford. He helped organize a SOAR Forum to bring stakeholders from the community together and also helped to develop an action plan for SOAR and formed a Steering Committee that meets monthly. And thanks to his hard work, Journey Home is now collaborating with Beacon Health Options to create an innovative SOAR program.  SOAR is a national best practice and stands for SSI/SSDI Outreach Access and Recovery (SOAR).  Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are financial support benefits that can greatly improve stability of individuals who have disabilities and cannot support themselves.  This SOAR project is about breaking down silos and creating new partnerships between the medical and behavioral healthcare systems, the homeless service system, Medicare Administrative Contractors, the Social Security Administration, Disability Determination Services, and Congressional Offices.
About his work, Emmett says, “The innovative and collaborative nature of Journey Home’s work has allowed me to approach the problem of homelessness and poverty from many different angles. My work with SOAR and the Community Care Team has sparked a particular interest in health policy and public health. After VISTA, I will be working as the Health Equity Intern at Families USA, a consumer health advocacy organization in Washington, DC. There’s no doubt that my year of service at Journey Home will inform my work in DC and beyond.”  Good luck in DC, Emmett!