Social Work as Advocacy

Mar 9, 2022

Social Workers Appreciation Month
Highlights from RITI’s Monthly Newsletter INN SIGHT


March is Social Work Month, and we are celebrating the hard work and dedication of our staff, interns, and partners who daily wade through the waters of case management to help RITI guests find safety, support, and sustainability. 

At RITI we refer to our case management staff as Advocates

We believe this language makes a difference for both guests and staff.

For guests, it means they have someone working on their behalf in challenging systems and situations and takes away the idea that they are just another “case” for someone to work.

For staff, the title is a reminder to daily be a voice for the guests, to speak with other agencies on their behalf, to support and cheer them on as they work to achieve their goals, and to share their stories in a way that helps the community celebrate those achievements. 

Family Advocate, Charie Carroll says,

“The relationship that is built during case management with the guests is critical. A good relationship with guests allows them to be more open to suggestions that we have or even feel comfortable enough to seek out help. This also helps to ensure that they have people in their corner who are rooting for them and their success, and unfortunately for too many guests they have lacked support on their journey. My favorite aspect of what I do are housewarming baskets. These baskets for me signify a huge victory. When I think of all the highs and lows during the process, I am always amazed at the resilience of the guests. They didn’t let their situation in the end get the best of them and they overcame it!  For the guests this is a new beginning that for some when they walked through doors, seemed impossible.”

When asked about the most challenging aspects of their job, accompanying guests on the path to finding safe, affordable housing rose to the top. RCC Guest Advocate, Lolita Crittendon said,

“The most challenging aspect is transitioning guests into housing, across the board. You ride around Memphis and see all this development, but trying to get housing is a challenge. I won’t say it’s impossible, but it is a challenge, and we do the best we can.” Charie echoed, “Although the systems are challenging we continue to partner with guests and encourage them not to give up and give in to feelings of frustration and defeat.”

RCC Guest, Richard D, says,

“I’m very glad to be here with the good people of Room in the Inn. They treat me right, they do their best to help you. Lolita is very helpful, she helped me get a job and helps me out with little problems whenever I ask.” 

RITI Guest Advocates work alongside community partners in the social work field to receive guest referrals and help guests take important steps toward their goals. In the Recuperative Care Center, guests enter the program with referrals from area hospitals. 

We’re thankful for partners like Jared Blackard at Methodist Hospital’s ER. Jared says,

“Social work is essentially putting people in the presence of their freedom, disclosing options to them so they may choose to better their lives little by little. Our ER presents this opportunity day after day with a multitude of patients. Room in the Inn has been one of those important options for patients, especially during these past two years. Medically complex patients experiencing homelessness present one of the biggest challenges to our community right now, and RITI’s recuperative care unit has helped to fill that gap in service.” 

Working alongside Guest Advocates and other staff members is a robust cohort of interns covering seven days a week of service. Currently, RITI supervises 12 interns, 9 of which are social work students. These students assist staff with supervision of guests, special counseling programming, one-on-one advocacy working toward guest goals, and helping RITI develop systems to better serve our guests’ needs. 

Masters of Social Work intern, La’Sandra Barrett shares, 

“I think social work at this agency is very important. Many of these residents need someone to listen as well as advocate. I know a lot of the services provided here are pretty straightforward. I like the fact that when I come here I can sit and talk with residents and just be a sense of relief after a long day of the residents either: sitting, job hunting, house hunting, going to work, laying in bed, or even the residents who are in pain when I arrive. Many of them I have talked to have expressed that they enjoy talking to me or seeing me come to work so that makes me very happy. I really enjoy the work that is done here at RITI.” 

Social work interns serving regularly with Room in the Inn: 

  • La’Sandra Barrett, MSW Union University
  • Catrina Caruthers, MSW Union University
  • Kimber Finnie-Fayne, MSW Union University
  • Melanie Hooker, MSW Union University
  • Sonji Mickens, BSW Union University
  • Carlissa Moore, MSW Union University
  • Missy Rose, MSW University of Memphis
  • Jincy Smith, BSW Union University
  • Passion Wells, MSW Union University

A big shout out to our guests for working so hard to take each next step and to our staff, interns, and volunteers for the many ways they accompany the guests during that journey. The Inn Crowd is the best!

At RITI, Guest Advocates help navigate the challenging path from homelessness to housing and stability. Take a look at the achievements made along the way in this animated short. 

Make Room for Upward Movement

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