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Introducing Petra Kirlew – A Guiding Light in Service to Others

By January 23, 2024No Comments

In the heart of Austin, amidst the vibrant and diverse communities, there exists a compassionate soul dedicated to making a positive impact on the lives of those in need. Meet Petra Kirlew, a remarkable SSVF Case Manager at Front Steps, whose journey from pursuing a career in medicine to becoming a guiding force in the non-profit sector is both inspiring and transformative.

Petra’s story in Austin began with aspirations of a career in medicine through a pre-med education program. Little did she know that her path would lead her to discover the profound impact she could make in the non-profit field. The pivotal moment came with an internship at the Community Care Clinic on Kamal St. This experience exposed Petra to the power of serving clients, especially those in marginalized communities, including those who may face language barriers. Petra found that having someone who resembled her clients helped foster deeper connections and trust.

Through her work at the clinic, Petra recognized a gap in the paperwork and intake process, particularly in terms of client comprehension. This realization led her to an opportunity with Safe Aligns, where she learned a crucial lesson –

“You can only help people who want to be helped.”

Petra emphasizes the importance of clients having the passion to accept the assistance offered, a realization that guides her approach to case management.

In acknowledging the mental toll that helping others can take, Petra emphasizes the significance of prioritizing her own mental health. She advocates that “therapists also need therapy,” underlining the importance of self-care to effectively support others. Petra’s wisdom extends to the mantra that

“Small Victories Matter.”

Celebrating seemingly small achievements, whether it’s remembering an appointment or making a bed, is vital in the journey towards stability.

To maximize a client’s success, Petra underscores the importance of developing individualized service plans. For her, it begins with truly knowing her clients, sometimes by listening first and speaking second. She emphasizes that case management is not a one-size-fits-all process and requires ongoing, personalized support tailored to each client’s unique needs.

Petra also recognizes the delicate balance required in this field, where work and home life intersect. Understanding one’s limitations and maintaining a healthy work-life balance is crucial to being an effective case manager. Petra’s dedication extends beyond her professional role, as she spends her time volunteering and delving into medical journeys, always striving to be the best version of herself.

In the February edition of the Front Steps newsletter, we salute Petra Kirlew for her unwavering dedication, compassionate spirit, and transformative impact. Her story is a testament to the power of empathy, individualized care, and the belief that, indeed, small victories matter. Petra Kirlew, a shining example of Front Steps’ commitment to making a difference in the lives of those experiencing homelessness.