Story #72: Andrea Kepler

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Andrea Kepler, Program Director - BronxWorks Pyramid Safe Haven.
 
Andrea Kepler joined BronxWorks on July 5, 2016. She remembers the date clearly as she had retired days earlier from her position as CEO at Wernersville State Hospital in Pennsylvania. Andrea struggled to imagine what life would be like after retirement and knew she was not ready to give up a career in social work that spanned 40 years. Upon answering an ad placed by BronxWorks in an industry newsletter,  Andrea interviewed with Noel Concepcion, Department Director - Adult Homeless Services.  Soon after, Andrea joined the BronxWorks Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) as  Clinical Coordinator. 

A Queens native, Andrea originally had her sights set on a career as an archeologist. She earned a bachelor's degree in Anthropology and Sociology from Lycoming College in PA. Later, Andrea moved to Philadelphia and earned a master's in Social Work from Temple University. She reflects on her years in Philadelphia during the 70's as being an exciting time for social justice and change. Andrea worked full-time in a residential program for individuals suffering from mental illness and development disabilities through graduate school. Since then her professional career has been dedicated to working with vulnerable populations.

Today, Andrea is the Program Director for the BronxWorks Pyramid Safe Haven. The Pyramid provides shelter for 75 men. Andrea's team at the Pyramid includes 32 staff members - case managers, kitchen staff, activity coordinators, housing specialists and security.

"My work is very rewarding. It is humbling to be with people who need so much and are grateful for your help," stated Andrea.   "Even the smallest deed is appreciated."

Andrea was especially proud that 9 former Pyramid clients participated in the recent BronxWorks Faces of Success II event. She felt that the event was wonderful for staff and clients alike.

"It is great closure to see individuals who were once homeless to become, and stay, stably housed."

Some days can be very challenging and Andrea admits that there are disappointments along the way. Every client has a unique story. Some face great barriers to permanent housing but she is proud that BronxWorks staff work tirelessly to offer a multitude of opportunities.

When asked what she likes most about BronxWorks , all roads led back to the staff and especially Noel and Juan Rivera, HOT Team Program Director. "I think the world of them. They approach their work with tremendous professionalism and show extreme amounts of care and concern"

When Andrea is not working her other two passions are running and her family. She is getting ready to participate in her 5th marathon. Andrea proudly describes herself as a wife, a mother to two grown children and a grandmother to her first grandson. "I love my family and I am so honored to have many, many friends."
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