As a Disaster Case Manager, Annie Derry (BA, LCCA) works day in and day out to help people repair, rebuild, and restore their lives and homes.
But…what does this actually mean? We sat down with Annie to get a behind-the-scenes look at the day-in, day-out work of Disaster Case Management.
The Path to Helping Disaster Victims
“I have worked for 30 years as a licensed childcare administrator,” said Annie. “I mostly worked with emotionally and mentally disturbed youth, as well as those coming from the criminal justice department. So, I already had that case manager experience.”
Now, working mostly with senior citizens, Annie has an inspiring outlook on her clients: “My heart goes out to them because these are the people who have already laid the groundwork…and here they are with the ground pulled out from under them and seemingly no help available.”
A Day in the Life
“My day consists of trying to find help for my clients,” she explained. Because each client is different in their needs, Annie ends up acting as a sort of detective— making phone calls, hunting down grants, and digging up community services that might help the people she serves.
“Today, I’m trying to get funding for one of my clients whose HOA decided to place a lien on his property,” she explained. “Today, that has been my whole goal. I’m trying to find funding to help them pay back the HOA fees so that he can get the lien lifted and the home can be repaired.”
Each Client is Unique
“My first case is actually a case I am still working on,” Annie noted. “We’ve come a long way, and we’re almost there.”
The case involves a woman whose home was damaged in Hurricane Harvey and still contained excessive mold.
“We finally got the mold remediated and the home repaired in December 2018, and she was able to spend Christmas in the home.
The only issue? This client has a degenerative disease and needs a handicap-accessible bathtub— a detail that wasn’t included in the original home repair.
“She would say, ‘Ms. Annie, the only thing I want is to be able to take a bath or get in the tub. All I can do is roll up to the sink and get a wash-off.’”
Annie wasn’t satisfied with this, working tirelessly to get a tub addition approved. “We worked and contacted everyone we could…when her tub was installed, she called and told me, ‘Ms. Annie I’ve been in it twice!’ within just a couple of days.”
Disaster Case Management is More Than Repair
“Yes,” she laughed. “People are surprised it’s not the bare minimum. We are actually working to not only restore, but empower them so they know what to do if an event happens to them again.”
For example, after one client’s home was repaired, Annie was doing a final walkthrough. “I realized she didn’t have any furniture, and I said, ‘No ma’am, you need furniture.’” The client was shocked.
A Passion for Helping Others
“My pastor would always say that work is a gift from God. So, if I have this gift from God to work, then it’s my responsibility to do the best that I can do for the people that I’ve been entrusted to assist.
The Real Work of Disaster Case Management
“I would say Disaster Case Management is a collaboration between the case manager and the client with the community resources,” she said.
Ultimately, she explained, the end goal is empowerment: “You have to teach your individuals affected how to access resources so that they can assist themselves. And I’d hope that, if they are ever unfortunate enough to be affected again, they will know where to go, how to go, and what steps to take.”
If you or a loved one are in need of disaster assistance, we would love to connect with you. We are passionate about serving vulnerable people in crisis, improving their quality of life in innovative, personal ways. Click here to connect with someone from our team and learn more about the many ways Endeavors® can help!
In addition to providing Disaster Case Management and Emergency Services, we also help connect military families to clinics, provide emergency staffing services, create long-term recovery plans, and far more.