If Homeport were a game show it might be called “Wheel of Partners.” With a strategic goal of being “laser sharp” in meeting the needs of its residents, Homeport has ties with 15 nonprofits who provide a bevy of services from food to furniture to after school programming.
But one of those partners stands out by helping Homeport residents utilize the programs and services of the other 14.
From August through April, Homeport has the benefit of interns from The Ohio State University and its College of Social Work. The interns work side by side with Homeport resident service coordinators, calling and meeting scores of Homeport’s 5,700 residents.
“It’s a win-win relationship. The future social workers learn what the job is about and our residents benefit having more people reaching out to them to learn their needs and finding help,” said Homeport Resident Services Director Alex Romstedt.
One of the interns, Brad Jones, a Mansfield area senior, said it was rewarding to be a part of the effort to prevent infant mortality or an eviction.
“There have been instances lately where we were able to go into homes and teach mothers the ABCs of safe sleep, to provide free pack-n-play cribs from Columbus Public Health,” said Jones. “We also have had the chance to work with clients on Columbus Foundation Gifts of Kindness applications in instances where debt threatened an eviction.”
For Social Work student Javonne Hill of Houston, Texas, the opportunity was “an informative and exciting experience. I was able to learn about all the many resources that are available in Columbus. The staff at Homeport are amazing and committed to serving families in Ohio.”
Elizabeth Couch, a senior from Columbus, said her internship with Homeport reinforced her career choice. “My time at Homeport has reminded me of why I wanted to be a social worker, to be an advocate and empower individuals in helping them live up to their fullest potential.”
The interns completed their hours with Homeport in April and were the fifth group from the OSU College of Social Work. Homeport’s Romstedt said the partnership and its students are critical to meeting the goal of servicing residents.
“They are foundational, a bedrock to successfully connecting our residents to many resources,” Romstedt said. “We get real sad in the summer months when they are not here. We have four starting in August -- one more than usual. And we can’t wait.”