For Pauline Hockenstein, WoodGreen’s Director of Homeward Bound & Neighbourhood Programs, her first introduction to WoodGreen was when she did a maternity leave placement at the organization well over a decade ago. During that time, she learned about the Homeward Bound program, which would ultimately change her career.
“I remember thinking ‘Oh wow! What a great program’,” she recalls. “I told Anne [Babcock, now WoodGreen’s President & CEO] if there was a chance to work for that program, I would be interested.”
A year later, she would get that chance. She found out there was a job vacancy in the program and that she was offered the job. She was more than elated.
“I said: ‘Are you kidding? That’s my dream job!’” Pauline says.
Now, after 13 years in her dream role, Pauline is preparing for a new chapter in her life. She is getting set to retire. Her last day with WoodGreen is December 17 of this year.
“I love that fact that WoodGreen took a major risk”
[caption id="attachment_1174" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] WoodGreen's Director of Homeward Bound & Neighbourhood Programs Pauline Hockenstein (middle) surrounded by her team.[/caption]
Pauline has enjoyed her many years at WoodGreen. When asked why she stayed at the organization so long, which is rare nowadays, she responded, “I love the fact that WoodGreen took a major risk in supporting, evolving, and implementing a program like Homeward Bound…There is nothing else like it.”
Developed by WoodGreen and launched in 2004, Homeward Bound is an award-winning program that supports homeless or inadequately housed single mothers to earn college diplomas, start careers, and achieve financial stability for their families. Unique in Canada, this four-year education and employment program provides intensive wrap-around services that eliminate the barriers that single mothers face in trying to move out of poverty.
Over the years as the director of the program, Pauline has witnessed many of the participants transform their lives. She remembers one participant who was having problems with a math course required for college. The pressure was on — the deadline to pass the course was quickly approaching. The participant was offered tutoring and other resources and with the extra help and her hard work, she was able to pass.
A few weeks later, the participant came by and told Pauline a story about her young son having difficulties with math. She said that before Homeward Bound, she would have just told her son that math is hard and it would be OK if he gave up. However, thanks to the program, her outlook on life had changed.
“She told her son ‘Hey, I’m 30 and I was having difficulties with math. But I worked hard and I passed. If I can do this, you can’”, says Pauline. “I think that’s an amazing life lesson.”
Feeling fortunate to have worked with an amazing team
In addition to making a difference in the lives of the Homeward Bound program participants, Pauline is grateful for the people she has had a chance to work with over the years at WoodGreen. That includes Homeward Bound Program Senior Manager Yordanka Petrova, who has been working alongside her since almost day one and who will become the new program lead after Pauline retires.
“My team … I couldn’t ask for anything better in terms of professionalism and commitment, in terms of teamwork, attitude, and knowledge. They are just a fantastic group of people,” Pauline says.
As for her upcoming retirement, Pauline is going to do some travelling in the near future. She also plans to spend more time golfing, painting, and volunteering. And she has some wise departing words for people who are still in their careers at WoodGreen.
“I think it’s important for anyone to see that they can be an agent of change,” she says. “I strongly believe that everyone’s voice should be heard, and everyone should also be proactive in sharing their voice, so everyone can elevate services and how clients are helped.”
Thank you Pauline for your 13 years of dedication to WoodGreen. We will miss you and wish you all the best in your retirement.