Elayne, affectionately known by all staff as “Miss Elayne” has been on Team HVAF for nearly 14 years! After retiring from her teaching career, Elayne began volunteering for HVAF and then worked part-time as a Residential Aide.
Since then, she has served as a cook for HVAF’s former in-home recovery program, and now is a Peer Mentor. She helps veterans in transitional housing in all different capacities, as she ensures they can overcome their barriers to reach self-sufficiency. This includes helping them navigate downtown’s bus system and even having an all women’s monthly coffee chat.
Growing up, Elayne got to experience different cultures.
“I have been blessed to have lived in a very diverse community. My parents were citizens of the world,” Elayne said. “Wherever I am, I was supposed to be able to adapt to that culture. It’s just something I grew up knowing how to do. But most people don’t know how to do it.”
She said she has noticed that fear will keep people from learning about others’ cultures, and she wants to change that. This is why she has stepped up to further HVAF’s DEI efforts by leading the Diversity Committee.
Last fall, the committee hosted a Cultural Luncheon – where staff brought in dishes that represented their culture.
“Sometimes we think we are just so different. But food has a way of bringing people together. Once we start eating and talking, nobody is ever angry when they’re eating,” Elayne said. “And you can say things that people don’t take offense to while you’re eating and it allows for people to come together and exchange information and bond more easily.”
This year, Elayne said the committee plans to host movie nights and other trainings for staff to understand and embrace each other’s differences.
“We have a fantastic staff and committee who have all kinds of ideas,” Elayne said. “I want for us all to be able to work together to make this a place where people come to work. Not black people come to work or white people come to work – where just people come to work – that’s our focus.”DONATE