“My job is to be a peddler of hope,” explains Bryan Holt, BBA, MS, Outreach Case Manager at Pine Rest’s StreetReach Program, which serves Kent Country Adults living in extreme poverty who are homeless, may struggle with drug or alcohol disorders, and have a mental health diagnosis.
“We seek out the folks that others have turned away or don’t see — the invisible ones. We have the pleasure of knowing them by name,” says Victoria Sluga, LMSW, CAADC, StreetReach Team Lead. “Bryan will go and find these folks.
“He’s literally in the woods, under bridges, at campsites looking for people and doing it in a way that takes skill. He is a salesperson for hope…to motivate change, to walk with the person.”
Having a criminal justice background, Bryan has worked for Pine Rest for 15 years and specifically at StreetReach as an outreach case manager since 2014.
Bryan and the team offer hospitality and inclusiveness by meeting folks where they are at, focusing on strengths, hopes and desires. Bryan explains, “I say to them, ‘we can help you apply for vouchers, work with landlords to get you an apartment, help you get disability. How can we help?’”
It does not matter if they never set foot in the StreetReach office, because Bryan will go to where they are and maintain relationships. He does everything from helping people acquire tents, rounding up food from local pantries, linking to housing vouchers and apartments, referring to mental health supports and/or helping secure income by linking to employment services and Social Security Income (SSI) benefits.
For example, StreetReach has helped 18 individuals get enrolled for Social Security in the past year; Bryan is part of this success. The goal is for 36 people to get SSI this current year.
Bryan seeks to treat people the way he wants to be treated. “It’s about being honest and I tell them upfront that getting disability or other services will not happen overnight. It takes time.”
StreetReach offers hospitality and inclusion by providing trauma-informed care. “How we ensure emotional safety and welcome people is crucial,” pointed out Victoria, “from the intentional non-triggering artwork on walls to offer someone a choice of where to sit, it’s all about them feeling safe. The team delights in walking with folks. None of us come across as an expert on another person’s life. That person is the expert.”
Bryan concludes, “We all know this person could have been us. This person is my equal, he or she just made that wrong turn.”
StreetReach is part of the Community and Residential Division and headquartered in downtown Grand Rapids. The program provides outreach services, peer supports, case management, and individual/group therapy for our case managed clients with a strong emphasis on housing. StreetReach has nine hardworking, devoted staff including Bryan Holt and Victoria Sluga, pictured here.