Meet Joylenna

Posted on March 3rd, 2017

Joylenna Sims likes to have a goal. She’s always working toward something – learning, growing, and striving to be better. And as a Family Advocate at Simpson, she puts that attitude toward her program participants, too.

“I’m always driven by what’s next, how I can be better, and I want to see everyone do well,” Joylenna says. “I want my participants to achieve their definition of success and I’ll help them in any way I can.”

But it wasn’t that long ago that Joylenna was a program participant at Simpson. About ten years ago, Joylenna’s family lost their Section 8 Housing Voucher and found themselves homeless.

Her family entered Mary’s Place, a family shelter in Minneapolis. Joylenna was pregnant with her sixth child and each week she hoped her family would be selected for Simpson’s Family Housing program. When she finally got into Simpson’s program after two months of trying, she was shocked. “I freaked out as I told my husband we won the housing lottery! He thought I was crazy.”

After a month, the family found housing that met their needs. They became a part of the Simpson program and worked with a Family Advocate for three years.

“You make this connection with your Family Advocate; it’s not just about the resources. Simpson was different from other programs in that we felt cared about. In other programs you might just be a number, but at Simpson there’s a personal connection.” Her family got back on their feet. Three years ago, they bought a house; a fixer-upper that Joylenna and her husband worked on together.

“But I just felt there was something missing at my previous job,” Joylenna says.

Last year Joylenna reached out to Simpson, looking to volunteer but after a long conversation the possibility of working at Simpson was on the table. She took a bold step in leaving a large company to pursue her passion. “I absolutely love my job. There’s never a morning I dread getting up for work. I love what I do, it’s very rewarding.”

Now, it’s Joylenna’s turn to make that personal connection with her participants. “It’s a huge ice breaker to be able to say to my participants: I’ve been in your shoes,” she says. “I’m honored to sit in the same office where my Advocate sat. It’s been ten years…a lot happens in ten years.”

Joylenna and her family