In the Spotlight: Meet Judi!
Updated: Jun 5, 2019
What do you do at Sojourner?
I am the training and outreach coordinator. The trainings that I do are for community members, staff, area professionals, civic groups, colleges and schools. It’s some community education, training and then I also do legal advocacy. I work in court systems and with victims of domestic violence who are in criminal, civil/family court and sometimes juvenile court. I also co-facilitate support groups. I do outreach which involves supporting any programs or services that go out into the community. For example, our program that allows us to do home-based visits to people in the community who would otherwise not be able to access services. For example, elderly people, people with mobility difficulties or people who it is simply more feasible for them to receive services if we go out to them. This program allows us to collaborate with the police more closely!
What is your history with Sojourner?
I have been here for over 14 years. When I first came here my job most closely resembled the volunteer coordinator and community education coordinator position. Then, as programs were restructured I started to work less with volunteers and more with intervention advocacy. Things shifted again and now I do what I do now!
What other background do you bring into your work with Sojourner?
I went to school in Winona and I started volunteering at their women’s program there which was a program for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. That involved working in criminal courts and civil courts, similar to what I do here but more broad. I left from there and came to Minneapolis and I worked as a community advocate in North Minneapolis in the Jordan Hawthorne neighborhood. I canvassed the neighborhood and went door to door to ask people what they saw as community problems. They identified the police, housing and domestic violence as the main problems. I worked there for about 7 years. From there I went to the Domestic Abuse Project and while I was there, things were changing around. I thought maybe I would change too and started a temporary position at Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women. I worked there for one summer as an administrative assistant, no advocacy. I answered phones, coordinated the t-shirt project, sent packages, mail, etc. It was a fun diversion but at the end of the summer I realized I didn’t want to do that any longer. I became aware of a position with Wilder Foundation and worked there as a family advocate. I worked with people with chronic, high-level mental illness, homelessness, IQ challenges, physical and mental disabilities, chemical dependency, and a wide variety of things. From there, I came to Sojourner.
What draws you to advocacy?
People are drawn to different things. Some people are drawn to business and like the hustle and bustle or some people are lawyers and they just love doing it, some people love politics. Advocacy is an area I’ve always felt drawn to and it allows me to meet people and recognize how you can help people to transform their lives. Sometimes you can’t and that’s also a part of it. There are ups and downs and pros and cons in everything.
How do you sustain yourself in that process? What do you do outside of work to support yourself?
I have a good family system and I have a good imagination. I’ve always been really lucky to have diversions or things that anchor me away from the work which is important. But really the people that I’ve met and the clients themselves are sustaining. The people help you continue to go with it.
Do you have any particular client stories that stand out to you or that you feel you were able to make a real impact with?
There are so many of them. A lot of them you don’t even realize the impact you’ve made. Maybe you run into someone years later and they tell you how much of a difference it made. Then sometimes you think, “wow that was really helpful” and then they don’t end up making it to where you expected. I have had clients who were murdered. Then you have to ask, what could I have done differently? What would have made a difference? I guess what it basically comes down to is, you give people choices and then you have to honor their choices.
What do you most want people to know about the work that Sojourner does?
Just that we are here and what we offer. What I have found when I go out to visit people in the community is that they don’t know we are here. They usually know the shelter but they don’t know what community advocacy is, they don’t know what that means for them. It’s more important for people in the community to know we are here. I tell them, “you see it (the abuse) before I see it.” When someone says “I’m having problems” and it actually comes down to “he’s hitting me” or “I’m afraid”, you can say there are services and they are free of charge and available 24/7. Whether a victim ever sees me will probably depend on someone telling them about Sojourner. That is what they most need at that point in time. They need to know that you, as someone they trust has recommended this (Sojourner) as a possibility and if they want to make the call, you’ll help them make it. It’s an important thing for people to understand that we are part of the community and to be visualized in the community. I do think that is coming along. Every year more and more people know about us.