For Allison Kulbeth, a typical day in the Shreveport office of Catholic Charities of North Louisiana (CCNLA) consists of answering or returning over 100 phone calls, coordinating client appointments, organizing files and paperwork, data entry, fulfilling staff requests and helping people who walk into the office requesting assistance. Through it all, no matter how hectic it gets, she greets everyone with a sincere smile and an encouraging word.
“Allison is truly the face of Catholic Charities,” said Carl Piehl, director of Financial Stability for CCNLA. “She reflects who we are and what we do. She believes that as God’s children, we can raise ourselves up, no matter what challenges life gives us. She is good at reminding people, ‘You can do this.’”
Kulbeth’s role is more than just serving as CCNLA’s Intake Coordinator; she wants to help people because she was once in their shoes. Her first experience with Catholic Charities was as a client, seeking assistance with her rent. Like all clients, she attended the Money School, a three-hour class that teaches the basics in financial education. After meeting with Piehl to assess her financial situation, she was denied assistance.
“I wasn’t working at the time and had gotten behind on my rent,” said Kulbeth. “Carl gave me some advice on how to make changes to my budget and my living situation in order to improve my finances. He was supportive, but also helped me to take an honest look at my situation.”
The next time she walked through CCNLA’s doors, it was as a temporary employee through Jean Simpson Personnel Services, hired to do data entry on a short-term basis. When the Intake Coordinator position became available, Executive Director Meg Goorley knew that Kulbeth would be the perfect hire.
“When Allison was first working here as a temp employee, she was a hard worker, very organized and got along with everyone she met.” said Goorley. “One of her strengths as our Intake Coordinator is that she makes everyone who walks into our building feel special.”
Kulbeth is also described as a great listener. “She engages people and is sympathetic to their situation,” said Piehl. “She listens to their story and is patient when giving information and other resources to clients. She can be empathetic, but also holds them accountable when they need to provide the proper information and paperwork. Her attention to detail helps us do our job efficiently when the clients come in for their appointments.”
When asked what Kulbeth enjoys about her role at Catholic Charities, she replied, “the interaction with people.” “I do enjoy listening to our clients’ stories, because sometimes that’s what they need most — someone to just listen,” said Kulbeth.
While she finds it hard that CCNLA isn’t able to help everyone, there are many client stories that make her smile. “Just last week, I was talking to one of our clients who did not have a job. As she was leaving our office, I had a feeling that I needed to help her. I followed her out the door and suggested that she call Jean Simpson’s office to find a job. They were able to help her and she will start working in January. When I hear back from our clients that we were able to truly help them, that’s what makes my job most rewarding.”