Inspiring Hope – Join me as I feature incredible people who are making a difference for families affected by the wildfires in Lake County, California. I have the privilege of meeting homeowners, volunteers and local business leaders who are making Lake County a better place. Today we meet a disaster case manager who stepped up following the Valley Fire.
You can see the previous story about our volunteer dorm which will provide housing for the teams coming in to rebuild homes with Hope Crisis Response Network at this link.
Jacqueline Maxmum landed her job in an unusual way. She answered a phone call from a friend. Jacqui, as she is known to friends, almost ignored the call that day. In fact, her home was in an uproar, filled with 15 people as family members had evacuated their homes in the line of the Valley Fire and were currently camped out with her family.
But she answered the call and was asked this question, “Do you want a job?” Jacqui laughed at first, but there was a long pause and the question came again, “Do you want a job?”
And so she dived in. A mom of three, a houseful of evacuees and thousands of her neighbors in need. First, she worked at the shelter. She knew everyone who came in. Neighbors, distant family, customers from her Grandpa’s business. There was a connection at every step.
Soon she would begin unofficially as a case manager, connecting people to resources, searching for housing, whatever she could. As the recovery work progressed, Jacqui would become the chair for the Case Management Committee on Team Lake County, working with all the agencies providing services and began working through the backlog of cases as the first paid case manager. With nearly 1,300 homes destroyed in the fire, there was plenty of work.
So nearly a year after the fire, what does she enjoy about such a demanding job? Jacqui’s response,
“Serving people. Helping people to restore their faith in humanity, restore their faith in themselves; being part of truly amazing team of people from all corners working toward the same goals.”
Jacqui says the greatest challenge of the job is the public misconception of what case management provides. “I don’t have a magic wand. I can direct people to resources, but often they have a responsibility as well.”
Jacqui said, “Despite the difficult moments, the best moment is the joy that comes to someone when they realize they actually will hit a point of recovery, not today, not tomorrow, but it’s coming. When they realize it’s o.k. to have a new normal.”