By: Emily Emshoff
Today’s post comes to you as an interview from Christie Peters, one of our amazing case managers. Christie goes above and beyond for her clients, and was recognized for this by her peers last month when they voted her as the Employee of the Month. We’re very proud of Christie and the great work that she does at Gateway Center.
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in New York City. I attended elementary, middle and high school in the Bronx, New York and resided in Manhattan, New York near the Apollo Theater where artists like Smokey Robinson and James Brown performed in Harlem.
Where did you go to school and what did you study?
I graduated from the Academy of Mount St. Ursula in the Bronx, New York. Several years later, I graduated from the Atlanta Metropolitan College and obtained an Associate Degree in Social Work. I attended Georgia State University and graduated with my Bachelors in Social Work, cum laude. In 2003, I graduated with my Masters Degree in Social Work from Georgia State’s School of Social Work. I currently am studying Public Policy and Administration with a concentration in nonprofit management and leadership at Walden University. With this degree, I hope to present non-bias research. I believe improper research can lead to common stereotypes which, in turn, leads to discrimination. There is a way to present qualitative and quantitative research using objective methodologies.
What led you to Gateway?
In the 1990s, I found myself a single parent living in a homeless shelter with my three-year-old son at 400 Luckie Street – The Salvation Army. I remember my experience as if it was yesterday. Back then, shelters put residents out at 6:00 a.m. and therefore many of us were left wandering around with nowhere to go. We couldn’t look for jobs then because no one was open. Therefore I really felt “homeless” when I was sleeping on the bench at the CNN center and the security officer said, “Excuse me miss, you cannot sleep there.” I really felt homeless and you know what, I was homeless. Nevertheless, I realize that I had to strive to reach my goals and no one else was going to push harder for me to achieve success then myself. After several bouts of being spoke to in a condescending way and experiencing homelessness, I decided to purue a career as a social worker. Fast forward about 5 years later, I ended up completing my Bachelors Internship at the very shelter in which I lived. Seeing the bed that I slept in for 6 months, as I entered the dorm with “intern” status instead of my previous homeless status, tears welled in my eyes and then I realized, I can acheive anything I strive to do; and so can everyone else with a dream! That’s why I have a passion in building success with people who are homeless and struggling with poverty.
I developed the four S’s of Success: Secure, Stabilize, Sustain and Succeed. I often tell my clients that you are more than obtaining an apartment (The “Secure” (basic needs) step of the 4 S’s of success). You have a dream in you that you can accomplish if you believe in yourself.
When I was working as a case manager at another shelter, I didn’t like the way the women were being put out of the shelter for reasons that could have simply been resolved. As a result of these middle-of-the-night discharges, I often found myself calling Gateway to send the women to Gateway. I always remember the TESTREPLACE voice on the other end of the phone saying, “Bring her over.” Gateway never refused anyone I sent and that lets me know that Gateway’s mission is one that is alive!
What inspires you in your job?
I am inspired by the self-determination of the program participants. Despite the many hardships they have faced in life, some have managed to never quit, persist and succeed. Also, from a leadership stance, the leadership staff seems to embrace the many talents of the employees as I have been encouraged to draw upon my experiences as a professional. I like that Gateway’s leadership team promotes and supports continued case management trainings in order for staff to implement the best practices approach as professionals. Furthermore, it is reassuring to know that I have a supportive supervisor along with fun, intelligent and lovable coworkers.
What is your favorite thing about Gateway?
My favorite thing about Gateway is the I am entrusted by my clients, coworkers and the leadership team to do my job and do it well. While I might be a bit unorthodox, my uniqueness seems to be respectd by Team Gateway. In addition, I am allowed autonomy as a professional as Gateway’s team seem to support creativity and “take the initiative”.
What do you like to do for fun in your spare time?
In my spare time, I love to participate in productively fun activities with my family. I enjoy reading and learning new things. Also, I am a chronic entrepreneur and therefore am constantly learning and teaching others about achieving their dreams.
Do you have a favorite spot in Atlanta?
My favorits spot in Atlanta is the AMC Movie theatre on Piedmont Road. It is the ultimate Dinner and a Movie. It’s a restaurant/movie theatre. You sit down at the table, order from the menu, get served and watch the movie while you’re eating a cheeseburger and drink of choice. Now how cool is that? So if your tired of popcorn, go to the AMC Movie Theatre on Piedmont Road.
What is a fun fact about you?
I have a growing homemade creams and homemade soap business called Skin Glow Hair Grow, LLC. I also make handmade hairbows for cute little girls. When I see a little girl who is homeless I reach in my bag, and place a pretty bow on her pig tail and the smile on that little face…priceless! Some people drink wine, I create homemade items as a soothing, fun outlet. I have my products in one store and eventually hope to get into a major retail chain. My 8-year-old son helps me with the homemade soap. We are getting ready to launch our chocolate soap line. I am teaching my children entrepreneurship while I work the business. Eventually, I would like to help people in poverty get out of poverty by learning how to create something and turn it into a business through holding seminars, webinars and public speaking events.
If I would describe my main focus in life, it would be my relentless passion to help people in poverty. I understand the barriers faced by people in poverty. I would like to write a few books about what Americans really should understand about people in poverty. Life is about giving. That’s what I do, I give. I give my time. I give my ear to listen to others. I give my arms to hug. I give my face to smile. I give my mouth to edify. Life is about being self-less, not selfish. That’s who I strive to be. I am a progressive person that believes everyone has a humane right to achieve greatness; and nothing, not even poverty, should get into the way!