The mission of Presbyterian Homes & Services (PHS), “to honor God by enriching the lives and touching the hearts of older adults,” is fulfilled when the actions of our employees demonstrate our stated values. In doing so, they “make their mark” upon those we serve. In our continuing series, “Make Your Mark,” we introduce you to PHS employees who are living out these values.
In just shy of two years, Briana Wright has enriched lives of residents at Central Towers in downtown Saint Paul. She makes her mark by practicing the PHS core value of stewardship. (See Briana, right, with Mary, a resident, left.)
Kirsten Carson, Campus Administrator, noticed early on that Briana cultivates relationships and uses resources carefully. With Kirsten’s encouragement, Briana stepped into the role of HUD Coordinator in 2019 after serving as a Resident Assistant. Kirsten raves she’s been “absolutely fabulous.” She reflects, “As a Resident Assistant, Briana established trusting relationships, and so residents feel comfortable reaching out to her.”
As HUD Coordinator, Briana optimizes the support and services residents need to live with freedom, wellness and dignity. HUD stands for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which subsidizes rent for Central Towers’ 193 independent and assisted living residents whose incomes are at or below 50% of the area’s median. They pay a sustainable rent equal to 30% of their income, and HUD picks up the remainder. Although HUD pays only for housing, Central Towers provides transportation, wellness, dining, social activities, spiritual care and other services for residents.
With her focus on stewardship and expertise in HUD, Briana helps residents maintain their independent living status. On an annual basis, she meets with residents to update and file documentation with HUD. Meanwhile, she assesses residents’ needs and connects them to support services from PHS or private practitioners in the general community.
Like other residents of Central Towers, Jean James feels it's a wonderful place to call home. She wrote in a 5-star Google Review, “I have lived here for almost four years and have no complaints,” and continued, “And when was the last time you talked to an old lady who has nothing to complain about? 😊” She commends the services and supportive staff, declaring she’s “here to stay.”
Nothing could make Briana happier. Briana said, “The best part of my job is helping someone find a home to call their own. I love watching residents grow within our communities.” She describes, “Hearing the laughter and seeing the smiles of residents just warms my heart to the fullest.”
Kirsten has witnessed Briana’s enthusiasm touch the hearts of residents. “She’s so engaging and energetic — they just love her.” For example, she said that sometimes Briana will pitch in to help at the front desk and soon everyone is catching her “infectious laughter.”
Briana feels compassion for residents who come from all walks of life. Briana explains that many have experienced homelessness and faced addictions and mental and physical abuse. She said, “It takes so much time for our residents to build up trust.” That’s why she celebrates their growth and recognizes their good stewardship in large or small steps. “I set goals with residents, and while some may appear small, they are huge to that resident. Others can make major life changes.” She reflects, “It varies from resident to resident, but if it’s important to them, then it’s important to me.”
We are honored by Briana’s example of walking alongside older adults at Central Towers. We thank her and all PHS employees who make their mark by stewarding resources and, most importantly, relationships with those we serve.
Do you know someone looking for more purpose in their work? Share the good news and the many opportunities to make a mark at www.preshomes.org/careers.