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How Coburn Place Prioritizes Well-Being Advocacy: An Interview with Jacqueline Willett
9th Mar


Jacqueline Willett

How Coburn Place Prioritizes Well-Being Advocacy: An Interview with Jacqueline Willett

To better serve survivors, Coburn Place recently reorganized our programming to address both the well-being and housing needs of individuals. Jacqueline Willett, our Intake & Well-Being Services Coordinator, explains her new role as supervisor. Because of her experience and skillset, Jacqueline is in a rare position to support and assist program participants with their recovery. 


Could you give us an overview of the well-being advocacy program?

When we have a survivor, whether they are referred to us or they come in off the streets, they fill out an intake form. Then, they’ll meet with a well-being advocate. 

The well-being advocate is there to address every need in order to balance everything — whether it be mental health services, returning back to school, working on a divorce — you name it. The well-being advocate is there to support the survivors in everything outside of housing. 

After they’ve seen a well-being advocate, the survivor will be assigned a housing advocate. The housing advocate will only focus on housing, nothing else. So they concentrate on cleaning up debts and checking on past housing, like old evictions. It’s so important to have a great housing advocate because they advocate, on the behalf of survivors, with former landlords and other housing admins to try to get costs removed or lowered. They help survivors secure safe, long-term, permanent housing. 

Our program ensures that every survivor is assigned both a housing advocate and a well-being advocate.


How do you provide self-sufficiency tools to survivors?

Each individual case is different. Depending on who you’re working with, you may have one individual whose primary focus is to address their mental health. And that may just be that particular person’s main focus. It depends on the case. 

In the role of a well-being advocate, my role is to address every area in every survivor’s life — every area, whether it be courtroom support or linking them to literacy resources. We face literacy issues daily. So in those cases, we try to find a program that can help teach literacy, like the Excel Center, or a program where they can get their GED, high school diploma, or even go back to college. 

In addition to extending opportunities for education, we are about to start partnering with Dove Recovery House, which will include some added recovery resources. This partnership will allow Dove to provide outpatient intensive recovery services. We’re hoping to also provide services covered by insurance.

The wellness of our survivors really depends on their needs. I work to cater to whatever their needs are. We’re just here to wraparound services and support them in any way that we can.


How Coburn Place Prioritizes Well-Being Advocacy: An Interview with Jacqueline WillettWhat do you love about your job?

I love seeing the transformations. 

My favorite success story is about a young woman who, when she came in, wouldn’t socialize. She didn’t leave her unit for the first six months. 

I’d come up to her unit and encourage her and ask if she needed anything. I would stand outside her door and explain all the programming that we offered. But she just was not comfortable. She wasn’t comfortable going out taking the bus. She wasn’t comfortable going to the primary care doctor. 

The most I could encourage her to do was to come visit me in my office. But then she’d go right back up to her unit, with no side trips to the pantry or clothing stores. She was just experiencing so much PTSD and so many other things due to the extreme abuse she endured. 

Because she wasn’t comfortable with leaving her unit, it was important that we find her a therapist to come to her and work with her one-on-one. (This was before we had a partnership with Collaborative Change, which is a counseling agency.) So I advocated hard to get her a therapist who was special and would meet with her on a weekly basis. It was close to a year before I saw her come out of her shell.

And now, to look at her is to see a full transformation. She’s now a college graduate and a successful paralegal with great benefits. She’s just totally the opposite of what I saw come through those doors. That’s what makes this job worthwhile.


How many survivors have you helped?

I believe too many to count! We’re not only serving the 35 families that are here on-site, but we’re also serving the waitlist. Right now, we have over 140 families on the waitlist. And I still work with many of our graduates. The folks who have already gone through the program, they still need some support at times, or they may just want to update me with different things in their lives. So I’m still involved with folks who are currently living here, along with the folks who are out in the community doing great, but still need a little support from time to time.

Even if someone finished the program in 2014, they may still need help in 2020. We’re all human, we all face different challenges at times. We all may need a little assistance here and there, and so I’m glad to work for an organization where we can step in and help during those hard times.


What would you like to accomplish in your new role?

My goal in this role is to provide the best services to all survivors that come through the door — individuals, families, children. My role in this new position is to make sure the programming that we currently provide to the family matches their needs, while offering new additional support services. 


How Coburn Place Prioritizes Well-Being Advocacy: An Interview with Jacqueline Willett

How do you envision the future of Coburn Place’s well-being program?

I envision expanding the well-being program. I just see more expansion. I see us providing more services to a larger number of folks. I foresee probably another building with the families that we’re serving. I envision us expanding and offering great services to individuals and families. I have a feeling we’ll be serving more folks and will have more available units, which will mean a greater need for more well-being advocates. 

We are currently in the process of getting a couple more well-being advocates on staff. I’m hoping we can expand to even more after hiring those two well-being advocates. 


Coburn Place’s mission is to help empower people impacted by interpersonal abuse. Visit Our Work page to learn more about the well-being program at Coburn Place, more about our partnerships, and more about how you can help.


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