On a day-to-day basis, the success of the No Place to Call Home program depends on a single spreadsheet.
Coordinator Tina McAninch has created a master document that helps keep track of the many different parts. She uses it to track the finances and setbacks of families and households on the verge of homelessness. Flipping through it, she can see which social agencies are helping them, and what options exist should those families run into trouble in the coming weeks.
“In between phone calls, I’m checking my notes. At any point in time, based on what I know about everyone, I can know where I think they’re going,” she said.
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McAninch has been chosen to lead the first comprehensive effort to reduce homelessness in the community. A former project manager for software firms, she has shifted her career focus to make a greater impact in the community.
Though she’s only been with No Place to Call Home for about four months, her experience has already helped ensure that the campaign has started successfully.
“Her organizational skills are impeccable when it comes to managing all of this,” said Kim Spurling, executive director of KIC-IT and part of the steering committee for No Place to Call Home. “Every day, she’s on top of checking and re-checking to make sure people are following through with the parts and pieces of what needs to be done.”
Coordinating an effort among multiple service agencies requires constant contact and discussion. McAninch hosts meetings every two weeks with representatives from the organizations providing case management, such as the Children’s Bureau and Gateway Services.
The sole purpose of the meetings is to talk about the status of each case that they’re dealing with at that time in a group setting. The process allows McAninch to stay up-to-date on each client, how they are progressing and what their financial needs are at the time.
“It’s also equally important because everyone in that room is a resource. At every meeting, someone will offer a suggestion about calling a certain agency or looking into a specific program. The providers offer up resources to the others, and it’s been very effective,” McAninch said.
McAninch also helps coordinate resources for clients, helping to figure out how much No Place to Call Home can help a family at this time, and then finding other sources of help, such as food stamps and energy-assistance programs.
As the No Place to Call Home steering committee was discussing what they wanted in a coordinator, the main focus was someone who could come in and immediately dive into the work spearheading this effort.
“We hired her, she came in and boom, she started working,” Spurling said. “It’s been amazing to see her morph into this position. She is invested in this, and her passion for the program and compassion for the people she’s working with bleeds through.”
McAninch stood out in that regard.
She had come from a corporate background, serving as a business project manager and customer support specialist for multiple software companies over the past 20 years.
But in 2011, she felt pulled in a new direction.
“I was pretty good at having an impact on people, but the people I was having an impact on were making software and making sure it got out the door on time,” she said. “I wanted to do something that was a little more impactful to humanity.”
McAninch went back to school at Indiana University to earn her master’s degree in social work, and has been working in the field for a year and a half. She had previously been at the Hoosier Veterans Assistance Foundation to help veterans who were facing homelessness, including working in Johnson County.
That experience cemented her desire to work with the homeless.
“I knew within weeks that this is what I wanted to do. This was my place,” she said.
When she learned about the opening for a coordinator of the No Place to Call Home program, McAninch, a Bargersville resident, found the perfect opportunity. She liked being part of an organization at its start, to help establish it.
“I knew that I was going to have the opportunity to be part of something that I saw as being very needed in the community,” she said. “I was very excited by the challenge, and still am, every day.”