By Annika Tomlin
Phoenix Rescue Mission Director of Community Engagement Jussane Goodman knows everyone needs a little help sometimes.
She needed direction after a hiccup at Arizona State University. However, it led to a career so gratifying that she hasn’t looked back.
“I was trying to get into the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, and they didn’t accept me because I didn’t have certain communication classes,” the ASU alumna says.
“I was asked, as a transfer student, to apply for a different degree then I would eventually be able to apply and transfer to the school. I did one semester in nonprofit leadership and management because I ended up in the wrong adviser’s office.”
She previously volunteered at local nonprofits prior to taking classes at the university level.
“I was working with youth who had aged out of the foster care system,” Goodman says.
When she heard about the degree, she said she would stick it out for a semester.
“However, the one semester it made it really clear that this is exactly what I should be doing,” she says.
Goodman volunteered at various nonprofits including Phoenix Dreams Center and Young Life prior to joining Phoenix Rescue Mission.
“I also did a short-term mission trip to LA Dreams Center and got to experience the Skid Row community out there,” Goodman says.
“I just know that this was the type of work that I was interested in which was working with individuals who are experiencing homelessness.”
Following graduation, Goodman worked as a housing specialist assisting women to find long-term housing outside of a homeless shelter. She specialized in working with “women in domestic violence situations or fleeing from domestic violence situations, women who have mental illness, women who have substance abuse issues,” and a plethora of types of people within the homeless population.
A fellow ASU alumni and longtime friend told Goodman about the Phoenix Rescue Mission.
“There was a position at Phoenix Rescue Mission for community connections coordinator and I asked him about it,” Goodman says about joining the nonprofit in 2017. “He had been working there for a while and he encouraged me to apply.
“I applied for the position, and I was hired on. It allowed me to really work with the community and get to know the community. Get to know the different aspects of hunger insecurity, housing insecurity, the homeless community in general and the different subpopulations.”
Through that position, Goodman connected with regional efforts that worked toward finding the solution to homelessness.
In 2019, Goodman was promoted to street outreach supervisor overseeing the work under that program. Not long after, Goodman was named interim director. She was assigned the position after a few months.
She oversees the criminal justice program, Glendale Works, Hope for Hunger Food Bank, mobile pantries, community market, growing Hope Coach Street Outreach team and other programs.
“I might be a little bit of a different type of director, I like to be in the weeds,” Goodman says. “I like to know what’s going on.
“I really like to provide assistance to my team. I like my team to feel supported. I’m hardly sitting at my computer all day.”
Goodman is kept on her toes between problem solving with her team, answering emails and staying connected with the community at large.
“My day is really all over the place and I get to do a little bit of high-level work but still do a bit of weeds work as well,” Goodman says.
Although she has switched to a more “heavy administrative job,” she still enjoys brainstorming with her team and providing them resources to succeed.
“I would say that my favorite part of my job is when I get to support my team that does work with the people directly,” Goodman says. “I might not get to engage with the clients on a face-to-face basis, however, I still get to be part of the everyday solutions.
“I’m a true believer in what it is that we do here. I have been able to see people’s lives change and transform. I’ve seen people walk through the gates of our recovery program and walk out a different person and I’ve been able to see their hope restored.”
Goodman says she finds it rewarding seeing not only the whole person change but also their emotional to housing states. Goodman also knows that working for a nonprofit in a supervisor role is not the easiest job.
“The hardest part is the disconnection from clients,” Goodman explains. She aspired to be in this role but loves to communicate with people who are “in the weeds and get to work with (clients) day in and day out.”
“Everyone goes into nonprofit work to help,” Goodman says. “It’s definitely not a sector where you can go and get rich.
“Having those stories and experiences of how you are making an impact are vital to keep going. It reminds you why you do what you do and so I think that is really important on the front of how this position could be difficult which is this connection between you and the clients.”
Goodman has a message for students who are considering a career in the nonprofit sector or wanting to help their community.
“I encourage students to volunteer,” she says. “I wish I would have done this more. Volunteer a whole lot wherever you can. Just don’t volunteer at one location but volunteer at tons of different organizations and ones that serve different populations. I think that having that understanding of what you are interested in doing within the nonprofit capacity is just going to be a benefit to you.”
Overall, Goodman could not see herself in a different field.
“It’s really rewarding and fulfilling work,” Goodman says. “It’s hard work and sometimes challenging work but I think when you catch a glimpse of something that you started and now see it through as far as a program or service, you really get to see all of your hard efforts at play.”
For more information about Phoenix Rescue Mission, visit phoenixrescuemission.org. CT