Operation Hope welcomes new clinical staff director

Fairfield-simmons

Trish Simmons

Operation Hope of Fairfield has announced the appointment of Trish Simmons as its new clinical director, effective July 1.

Simmons will oversee Operation Hope clinicians, working with clients at both the homeless shelter and those residing in Operation Hope’s subsidized housing units throughout Fairfield and Bridgeport.

“Trish brings the right experience and knowledge to serving our clients in need,” said Carla Miklos, Operation Hope’s executive director. “Providing clinical support to our clients is one of the most important things we do to help transform lives and prevent chronic homelessness.”

Simmons’ recent experience includes employment as Fairfield’s social worker serving both the town’s senior center and the Department of Social Services. Prior to that, Simmons worked for The Jewish Home for the Elderly, providing on-going crisis intervention to both short and long-term residents and their families.

She lives in Fairfield with her husband, Kevin, and two children.

“We are fortunate to have someone well qualified and also well acquainted with Fairfield and the surrounding areas,” said Mike Rosten, Operation Hope’s board chair.

Simmons’ passion for social work has been consistent throughout her education and career, since graduating from Providence College with a bachelor’s degree in social work in1990.

“I’ve been a foster care social worker in New York City and in the reunification department in Connecticut for children and families,” Simmons said. “I have also worked extensively in the gerontology field with senior centers, adult day care, and home care, long and short-term care in skilled nursing facilities. This range of experiences with individuals and families will be extremely valuable as I help our staff focus on developing supportive relationships that serve Operation Hope’s clients.”

Most of the local community is well familiar with Operation Hope’s Food Pantry and Shelter, but may not be aware of the way the clinical staff works with clients to help them achieve permanent housing and transform their lives. Trish recounts that she recently attended a birthday party for one of her children, only to discover that the party was being held by an Operation Hope family, living and thriving in Fairfield, in housing supported by Operation Hope.

“Operation Hope protects the anonymity of their clients, for obvious reasons and that makes it extremely challenging to let the public know all that we do,” Miklos said. “The work that Trish and her staff perform reflects the more complex side of homelessness and hunger in our area. If we’re serious about ending homelessness and hunger, then clinical services are essential and proven to be effective. The demand for affordable housing is at a critical level today, in fact, Operation Hope’s housing wait list is closed. Today there is a back log of over 100 individuals and families, awaiting housing.”

One of the key areas of focus for Simmons will be to enhance Operation Hope’s collaboration with other local agencies in an effort to improve the overall services to our clients. This was best evidenced during Storm Sandy, when various town of Fairfield services and Operation Hope came together to help our distressed neighbors. This kind of collaboration between the two organizations, while not new, was vital to the town’s ability to manage the many disoriented and distressed residents, left in the wake of Sandy.

“Homelessness took on a whole new face, when people from all walks of life and Operation Hope clients found themselves in similar situations,” Miklos said.

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