Michelle Tepper, Director of Strategic Relationships
Michelle Tepper serves on two boards: Pathways to Housing PA and JEVS Human Services. Pathways’ mission is to end homelessness in Pennsylvania and the JEVS mission is to “make hope happen today while creating meaningful change for tomorrow”. Pathways to Housing PA resonated with Michelle because it believes in housing first, then building the services around that. Michelle recognizes how difficult it would be for somebody to be provided services or qualify for services if they don’t even have a place to sleep. “What do you like to do when you have a bad day? You like to go home and sit on the sofa and figure things out – you can’t do that if you’re homeless”.
As for JEVS, Michelle even calls this a “secret organization” because many people don’t realize the amount of services that they offer, like helping veterans and people who were formerly in prison get back into society. JEVS assists with helping them find a job, a home and start fresh, something incredibly difficult to do on your own.
Michelle has been on the board of Pathways for longer and one of her responsibilities includes serving as the board chair of the marketing events committee. She is in the process of finding her committee with JEVS, since she has been involved as long. When asked about something special each board has done that she is proud of, Michelle said that for Pathways, she has actually met some of the clients it has served. This was a really fulfilling experience and she got to see first hand how much of an impact she was helping to make. She went on to say that “…[these clients] have amazing stories. These are people who [now] want to volunteer for Pathways [themselves] because they are so proud.” In addition to meeting the clients, Michelle was proud of how Pathways set up a furniture bank. This now provides a way for people to come and actually shop for what they wanted to see in their home, an aspect of owning a home Michelle feels everyone should be able to experience.
As mentioned earlier, Michelle is especially proud of the programs that JEVS offers that helps people who have just gotten out of prison find jobs and get back into the community. She said that “after you’ve served your time, there are so many strikes against you the minute you walk out [of prison]”. Michelle recognizes how important the work is that JEVS is doing to ensure that these people have better experiences. Michelle chose to be on each of these boards because she is extremely passionate about both of their missions. She considers the Pathways staff as “such a committed group of people” and since she is so proud of what they do that, she just wanted to continue her support.
When asked why joining a board is especially important to her, she says that “we are obligated to give back to our community”. She believes that if you are in a situation in which you can give back, you should, and it doesn’t have to be just financially – time, volunteering, patience are other ways to donate.
“We are the people who are going to make a difference”.