Part One: “Driving” Mr. Mitch

By LIFT on January 13, 2015

Categories: First Person Perspective, Real Stories


Over the next couple of weeks we are going to release a series of reflections from advocates, members, and alumni. The pieces will discuss LIFTs values, LIFT’s impact on members, and LIFT’s immediate and long-term influence on advocates and alumni.

To start us off, Jordan Anderson, a MSW student from the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration – talks about her experience as a LIFT advocate. Specifically she reflects on when and how she came to realize LIFT’s values in practice.

I’m a first year Master’s-level Social Work Intern at LIFT. When I inform people that I work at LIFT, they often assume that it’s the popular cab company in Chicago, “LYFT”. With many laughs, I always respond that no, my LIFT is not a cab company.

A few weeks ago I did an intake meeting with a member that I will call Mitch. Mitch was physically unable to work due to work-related injuries. Because of those injuries, he said that he had been bouncing between different transitional housing programs without a permanent solution. He told me that some workers at the transitional housing agencies did not treat him like a human being. He often felt degraded and like he was “less than”. During Mitch’s second meeting, about halfway through, he suddenly stopped me and he said “you know what? You people here are so nice…why is that?…I gotta say, I’m not used to this special treatment…” We laughed about his light-hearted observation and proceeded with the meeting.

Weeks later, I considered Mitch’s question again. After a few more weeks of working at LIFT, I finally had a response.  I realized the positivity LIFTers exude is one way in which they treat each member with dignity and respect. In turn, the upLIFTing environment motivates members and facilitates positive change.

Naturally, after I let people know that my LIFT isn’t actually a cab company, the follow-up question is what my ‘LIFT’ actually does. After reflecting on Mitch’s question, I can confidently say that like LYFT the transportation company, my LIFT also helps people get places. LIFT helps take people to homes, workplaces, and opportunities for increased personal, social and economic well-being. Greater still, LIFT delivers these services while consistently promoting a sense of possibility and human potential.

I have worked in various governmental agencies and community-level non-profits throughout Chicago, but I have never encountered the level of unconditional positive regard from supervisors and advocates alike as I have at LIFT. LIFT’s effective services transport resources and opportunities into the hands of people who perhaps would not have had access before working with LIFT.

‘LIFT’ helps drive people. Is there an app for that?