Today we’d like to introduce you to April Connolly.
April, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Growing up in Brockton with a single mom who struggled with mental illness, I learned early in life how important community and support are and how hard it can be to experience serious challenges alone. As I got older, I knew I wanted to positively impact people’s lives (as trite as that sounds) but didn’t really know how to go about that. After several forays into various jobs, I decided to return to school in my mid-20’s to finish my Bachelor’s Degree. I decided to pursue Social Work because it lined up with my desire to help, but wasn’t so specific that I’d be boxed in. This helped my indecisive, noncommittal nature. After finishing my Bachelor’s, I went onto to complete my Master of Social Work. I accidentally found Father Bill’s & MainSpring (FBMS) through networks and have been blessed to have spent my career “growing up” here.
Starting my social work career relatively late, what I lacked in professional experience I think I made up for with some grit, humility, and healthy perspective. I began at FBMS working in the MainSpring House shelter in Brockton, running life-skills groups with guests and overseeing the day-to-day operations. I have held several positions over my 9 years here including Shelter Manager, Individual Programs Manager, Housing Director, and finally, Chief Operating Officer. During my journey at FBMS, I have valued professional development, curiosity, and constant learning. I decided to return to my alma mater, Bridgewater State University, teaching part time for the Graduate School of Social Work. Having this experience hand-in-hand with my work at FBMS has kept me engaged in continually asking how we can improve our work and, personally, how I can improve my contribution to it.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
There have certainly been challenges I’ve experienced throughout my career. Constantly seeking growth and development comes with stretching yourself. I’ve always had a perspective that we set our own limits on what we can achieve. But at times, I have felt that I took on too much, said “yes” too often, or refused to admit my limitations. I’ve had difficulty balancing a demanding career with having a family and making sure to prioritize both can be challenging. I’ve learned that not being able to ask for help is a weakness that life’s goals are only achievable by sharing the responsibility and relying on each other. For a person who has spent her whole life valuing self-reliance, it’s been a constant struggle, professionally and personally, to maintain that awareness.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Father Bill’s & MainSpring – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Father Bill’s & MainSpring (FBMS) is a mission-driven nonprofit aimed at ending homelessness in Southern Massachusetts. We provide emergency and permanent housing to individuals, families, and veterans who are at-risk of and experiencing homelessness. FBMS values individualized care and support to people, recognizing each person’s experience of homelessness is unique and their path to recovery needs to be tailored. We view ourselves as brokers of services and operate with a harm-reduction approach. This means we meet people where they are, walking alongside them as they set their sights on better days. We “hold the map” and help individuals navigate through some of the most difficult challenges in life including homelessness, mental illness, substance abuse, and trauma. We are most proud of our commitment to sticking with people when a lot of other services and programs would cast them out.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
For me, success is the “ah ha” moment, whether experienced by me or someone else. I love the experience of solving a problem with people or learning something new from others. There are so many people around me with so much knowledge and experience, I feel successful when I’ve snagged just a little bit of that or maybe had the opportunity to share my own knowledge. I’m an inherently curious person so I consider myself successful as long as I’m still engaged and learning every day. When that stops, it’s time to change.
- Address: Administrative Offices
430 Belmont Street
Brockton, MA 02301
- Website: helpfbms.org
- Phone: 508-427-6448
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fatherbillsmainspring/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/FrBillsMnSpring
Photos courtesy of Father Bill’s & MainSpring and Jack Foley