Chalese Knight of Wilder Supportive Housing Services

Wilder housing staff support youth, adults and families as they pursue their goals after experiencing homelessness


Like many in the community, families served by Wilder have been challenged by job loss, distance learning and the stress and isolation of the pandemic. Even amid these hardships, youth, adults and their families in Wilder’s supportive housing programs are demonstrating resilience as they pursue their goals after experiencing homelessness. Wilder’s Supportive Housing Services team is standing strong with families, finding creative ways to provide the support and resources that help families live stable lives.



Chalese: It’s inspiring to see what parents and families are able to do

When in-person visits and conversations halted last year, Chalese, pictured above, a program manager supporting many supportive housing participants, started calling and texting families at times when she knew they needed her most. Chalese, whose son was distance learning, provides families with technological assistance along with timely reminders and tips to help set kids up for school success during this tumultuous time.

“When I’m up with my son, I’m calling parents,” she says. “Hey, it’s six o’clock. Yep, get up. Get him up. What are you making for breakfast?” In a moment of ordinary magic, one child who hadn’t liked school before told Chalese that he likes it now – and he was eager to return to school in person. 

“It’s inspiring to see what parents and families are able to do, even during this time, to support their families," she says.

Shari: Families can meet their needs in one place

Before the pandemic, families met with Shari, a housing specialist and case manager in one of Wilder’s family supportive housing programs, on the ground floor at Wilder Center. Meanwhile, their children could attend therapy appointments in the mental health clinic one floor above. When the pandemic arrived, Wilder continued to make support available from one place, only now that place is our clients’ homes. “They can get their needs met at one location, which is awesome,” Shari says.

Through a partnership with MicroGrants, Shari connects participants in services throughout Wilder who could benefit from grants of about $1,000 for education, small businesses or transportation. Through PCs for People, to which Wilder donates used staff computers, Shari helps participants across our programs and services obtain refurbished computers a reduced cost. “If the children needed a lap top for schooling, which was really huge over the last year, they were able to get that for $50,” Shari says.

Shari Sibbald, Wider supportive housing employee, smiling with outdoor background

Graydon: Stable Housing Gives People Time to Meet Other Needs

Graydon Francis, Wilder supportive housing staff, smiling with outdoor background

"Stable housing is so critical for the families that we serve because having stable housing will give them the time to address the other needs that they may have in their lives," says Graydon Francis, former case manager for the ROOF Project in Wilder Supportive Housing Services. "If they don't have that stable housing, it can be hard for them to maintain a job, it can be hard for their children to have great attendance at school. Having a stable roof over their head gives them that peace of mind so that they can excel and address the other goals that they may have in their lives."

Melissa: People have the commitment and abilities to rise above their situations

"Prior to joining Homework Starts with Home, one of our participants was living in an unstable environment with a leaking roof, no running water," says Melissa Schultz, a staff member in Wilder Family Supportive Housing Services. "She’s now been in stable housing for 24 months. And just recently she purchased her first home, all by herself. That has really showcased what our program is all about and the commitment and abilities that people have to get through this and be successful overall."

Headshot of Melissa Schultz, staff member of Wilder Family Supportive Housing Services

Brenda: Staff uses creativity to stay connected to youth housing participants

Brenda Delaney, program manager of Lincoln Place, Wilder Supportive Housing Services

At Lincoln Place, a supportive housing development for youth who have experienced homelessness, Wilder’s housing team has shown up with creativity, empathy and determination to connect with participants and help them pursue their goals.

We used to have community dinners and have volunteers come and serve meals,” says Brenda Delaney, Wilder’s program manager at Lincoln Place. “Now we’ve done a scavenger hunt over Zoom, and we've done a paint night over Zoom. We also partnered with another organization that provided financial wellness and budgeting sessions by Zoom.”

Gary: We're providing the same services we always have, it's just not in person