As Shepherd’s Table continues to grow, we’ve recognized the need to expand our social service offerings for our clients on their journey to self-sufficiency. This required hiring a qualified and experienced staff member to lead the expansion. Jerome Chambers joined as the Director of Social Services in May of this year to fill that gap. Beyond meeting basic needs through our programming, Jerome’s role enables him to come alongside clients individually, help identify obstacles, and provide the necessary support to make self-sufficiency possible. Just over a month into the job, he’s hit the ground running.
Since childhood, many factors have pointed Jerome to a vocation in social work. His mother was raised in foster care and her stories provided insight into the needs present at both individual and systemic levels. As a person deeply rooted in faith, his calling has been further shaped by the belief that God puts us on this earth to help one another. After an undergraduate degree in Sociology, he went on to acquire a Masters of Divinity from Moorehouse School of Religion and Masters of Social Work from Howard University. With the expertise from both programs, Jerome is equipped to holistically care for the wellbeing of his clients.
For much of his career, Jerome has served in long-term care facilities for the elderly, devoting years to caring for individuals in the final chapters of their life. His time serving the elderly gave him some exposure to homelessness in the risk it imposed on the lives of his patients. As Jerome began to sense the need for transition in his own work, he was reminded of the work of Shepherd’s Table. A native to the area, Jerome had known of Shepherd’s Table his entire life. He recognized it as the place to go if you were hungry or in need. After connecting with our Executive Director, Manny Hidalgo, it was an obvious fit.
“I really think if people are given the help the need, they can reach their potential.”
Jerome is defined by a compassion that is tangible in every conversation. He spends much of his day conversing with our guests as he evaluates needs and nurtures relationships. He’ll happily plop on a bench or enter into a tent to befriend members of the community, desiring to do “whatever it takes” to meet people where they’re comfortable. In explaining his work, he shared “My role is to help provide stability.” By consistently engaging with individuals over time, he’s able to help clients reach a point of stability from which they can rebuild their lives. Jerome provides space for them to speak into their care, learning what has and has not been helpful in their journeys with previous services. He is eager to meet each need he encounters, and to ensure the need is met effectively. He shares of his perspective, “I really think if people are given the help they need, they can reach their potential.”
Programmatically, Jerome’s role at Shepherd’s Table will enable an increased scope of services for our guests. Plans are currently underway to roll out a Weekend Day Program, providing a safe and productive place for guests to spend time on the weekends. Jerome identifies this program as a crucial component of our guests’ wellbeing. It will provide an opportunity to be sheltered and safe from the elements, including the harsh heat of the summer. With basic needs accounted for on the weekends, clients can avoid any setbacks that otherwise occur when services are reduced on Saturday and Sunday. Beyond offering a safe place of rest, the Weekend Day Program will host workshops ranging from skill trainings to art workshops. All of this will contribute to Jerome’s vision for the culture of Shepherd’s Table: a place sensitive to the needs of each client, meeting them where they are and drawing them into community. The Shepherd’s Table team is thrilled to have Jerome on board, and eager to expand our social services under his leadership.