Pamela Nash: "They Trusted Me With Their Lives"

November 18th, 2019

Around the year 2000, Pamela Nash took a job at Abode Services that was supposed to last just three months. Nearly 20 years later, that "temp job" has become a defining tenure of Pamela’s career and a crucial part of Abode’s success in rehousing formerly homeless people.

Pamela recently retired and she leaves with a long list of accomplishments and many who will miss her dearly.

When Pamela started with Abode, it was a small operation with barely a dozen employees working out of a single emergency shelter in Fremont. Since then, it has grown into a regional organization that helps almost 9,200 people each year in several Bay Area counties. And the tireless commitment of people like Pamela has helped Abode grow to meet the region’s daunting challenge of ending homelessness.

"It’s been a gift and an honor to be part of this amazing agency’s growth," she said.

Pamela has worn many hats during her Abode tenure. After earning a Master’s degree from San Jose State University, Pamela started at Abode’s emergency shelter. She later worked as a service coordinator at housing sites in Union City, Fremont, Berkeley and Hayward, among other cities. She has helped clients facing a wide variety of challenges, such as people battling substance abuse, young adults aging out of foster care, those diagnosed with H.I.V., and formerly homeless people living with mental and physical health issues.

Over time, she has helped several hundred Abode clients, people who once lost their home but are trying hard to turn their lives around.

"I’m honored that so many people have trusted me with their lives," Pamela said. "They shared their stories with me, sharing their hopes and dreams, their strengths and challenges. That’s incredibly powerful."

Abode, led by Chief Executive Officer Louis Chicoine, has always been laser-focused on its mission of ending homelessness, Pamela said.

"A big reason why Abode is such a formidable force in fighting homelessness in Northern California is that Louis and other Abode leaders have always worked so hard to collaborate with community partners, politicians, funders, and leaders in cities and counties," she said. "Louis always thinks outside the box on best practices to serve this population and how we’ll rehouse and support homeless people."

Pamela says that Abode, which has provided homes to 11,824 people since 2010, has illustrated the clear efficacy of the Housing First strategy, which says that once one gains housing, the social services that follow are much more effective at helping that person sustain affordable housing.

"Housing with services is an incredibly good model in keeping people housed," she said. "Abode is well-respected; people look at our stats and want to partner with us."

Pamela has mixed emotions about her retirement, saying she’s excited about her life’s next chapter but will miss the everyday "meaningful moments" she has had the honor of sharing with her residents. "It’s going to be hard, but it’s time," she said.

Pamela is beloved and has received so many kudos from clients and colleagues, she has become a symbol of Abode’s mission.

Ask many of the Abode participants she assisted over the years, and you will hear the same refrain: "I don’t know where I would be without Pamela."

The feeling is mutual, Pamela said. She acknowledges she will miss so many of the Abode clients she has helped.

"Everybody I’ve met has given me a piece of their heart," she said. "I hope they take a piece of me with them, too.

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