Getting into a recovery program. Making it to medical appointments. Finding housing. These are just some of the life-changing steps that Amanda Foggia,
patient liaison with Central City Concern’s Recuperative Care Program (RCP),
sees her patients taking. For Foggia, witnessing patients achieve goals they once thought impossible is her job’s biggest pay-off.
“Moving someone into their own apartment, seeing them get their own keys, is one of the best things we do, “ says Foggia, who is in her second year as an RCP volunteer through Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC) Northwest. “My mindset of success has changed dramatically since coming here.”
Originally from outside of Albany, New York, Foggia attended Fordham University, where she studied psychology. At Fordham, she also got her first exposure to the Jesuit philosophies of social justice and service work. She participated in several service immersion programs during her undergraduate years, traveling to India twice to work in orphanages and a home for sick women founded by Mother Teresa. She also worked with underserved populations in Montana and Colorado while still a student.
After graduating from Fordham, Foggia considered various volunteer positions around the country. She liked the urban locale of RCP, as well as the warm reception she got from JVC Northwest. She began working at RCP in the summer of 2014 and found it so rewarding that she signed on for a second year.
Foggia’s main responsibilities include determining who is eligible for the program and helping patients ranging in age from 18 to 86 meet their goals, from staying off drugs and alcohol to finding employment and reconnecting with family members.
She says that, initially, she spent a lot of time observing patients and other staff members, learning how to work with a population with which she had little experience.
“It’s an intense and challenging place,” Foggia says, “and at times it can feel overwhelming. You have to figure out how to stay fresh and positive.”
Living in a house in North Portland with seven other JVC Northwest volunteers has provided Foggia with much-needed moral support, but communal living also comes with challenges. She and her housemates hold weekly meals, household business meetings and spirituality nights. They also make all household decisions, such as how to spend their limited stipend for groceries, communally.
“The reward has been getting to witness my own personal growth and the growth of the people I’m living with. Also learning how to love people even if we don’t see eye to eye or have completely different views on things,” Foggia says.
RCP has expanded rapidly in the past year since winning a Health Care Innovation Award and being included in a national study on health care for the homeless. According to Foggia, better partnerships and increased awareness at local hospitals have also fueled the program’s growth, with referrals rising from an average of 17 per month to 29 per month.
All of this has added to Foggia’s own learning experiences. She says, “From the volunteer side it’s a unique position. You get to see so many things, it’s an opportunity to see the whole wrap-around services.
“Working at RCP has been a really great learning experience,” she adds. “It gets me out of my bubble.”
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