Erika Phillips is always running. A mother of four, a Highfields Wraparound facilitator for Clinton County and an active member of her community, she keeps her schedule full. But you won't find her complaining – in fact, she'll admit to being called a "Positive Patty" by her colleagues.
She says that, as a resident of Clinton County, she wants her neighbors and other community members to be successful.
"That's how Clinton County works; we all just take care our people," she explains.
She has been the Wraparound facilitator for Clinton County for almost four years. This means she carries out a process to "wrap" services available to a family around them to help keep their family together. She brings the many people and organizations in family's life together to help create a support system.
In addition to her work with Wraparound, Erika is also on the board of the Child Abuse Coalition, a part of the Building Stronger Communities Coalition (BSCC). Between these three organizations, she networks with many professionals who share a vision of a happier and safer Clinton County.
"Clinton County is so tight-knit, you have to be a part of the community," she explains. "The people who are a part of it have been there forever, so you have to be just as invested as they are."
Erika works with high needs families every day. She knows that the stressors that affect a family are complex. For example, a family struggling to meet the needs of their children is made even more difficult when they are struggling to find transportation to a food pantry that's only open at certain times in an area that doesn't provide public transportation. But Erika loves her job and coworkers; her supervisor creates a comfortable working environment, despite the challenges of the job.
"Erika has great rapport with both her clients and other professionals," Sharla Hansen, the community services coordinator at the Lansing office, said. "She is the 'resource queen' in Clinton County not just for our staff and the families that she works with but also other professionals in the community."
Erika knows that she can count on the people in BSCC and the Child Abuse Coalition for help if she needs it, just like her colleagues can count on her for help when they need it.
She is full of stories illustrating this. A special education director went to Erika when a family needed help getting food and money for a utility bill. Another colleague helped out a special needs family Erika was working with.
"Relationships are key. I preach this all the time here," says Erika. "That's how I get a lot of things done in Clinton County – because I've built relationships with other service providers."