“Every day is a feel-good story.”
Marcee Dillard begins her day with a bounce in her step and a smile in her heart. “It’s a matter of necessity,” she explains as a member of the Felton Engagement Specialist Team (FEST) under the Social Justice Division. While most people are still grappling with their own life’s challenges in a pandemic, Marcee is a fearless frontline worker, helping the insecurely housed and unhoused populations.
Her typical day often starts with a visit to an encampment site.
“I usually get a dispatch of the location and the clients I would meet. For an encampment assessment, I’ll meet up with a social worker from the Department of Public Health and bring around 20 hygiene bags filled with t-shirts, snacks, and hygiene supplies. We knock on the tent doors, and we ask if anyone has signs and symptoms of COVID-19. If they do, we get EMS services and get them to a quarantine hotel. If they don’t, we provide them with the Felton hygiene bags, and we ask if they have any needs. I bring along information for MediCal, CalFresh and ID vouchers. I engage, build a positive rapport with them, and try to get them the proper referrals to the services that they need.”
FEST is comprised of Engagement Specialists who are skilled case managers working in collaboration with the San Francisco Departments of Public Health, Public Works, Homelessness and Supportive Housing, and the San Francisco Police Department. Engagement Specialists provide outreach and service linkage to support clients by addressing any combination of substance use, mental health, and physical health needs.
Born and raised in San Francisco, Marcee has seen first-hand how hard survival can be in the city.
“Where I’m from in San Francisco is known as the Western Addition or the Filmore neighborhood. I have seen the effects of gentrification and watched how poverty turned rampant in my community. I know business owners who are now homeless, and it doesn’t seem right.”
From scrubs to the streets, Marcee reflects on how she started her career at 18 as a medical assistant. Pivoting from the medical field into social work, Marcee worked in peer education and counseling before landing a job at the Roots Community Health Center. She made a leap to Felton Institute, first joining the CORE program in Alameda County before shifting to the FEST Team in September. She is also currently a student at both San Francisco City College and Laney College, working towards her Community Health Worker Certificate. And while her job and schoolwork seem like a lot to balance, Marcee shares that it’s not difficult to keep motivated.
In her spare time, Marcee enjoys visiting the Pier at San Francisco’s Embarcadero. She loves playing tourist, enjoying the boardwalk games, and grabbing some crab cakes. With a large spectrum of interests, she is equally at home talking about hair and nails as she is discussing the meaning of life. A self-confessed nerd, Marcee says reading philosophy books is her to-go leisure activity.
While most people look back at 2020 as a year of disruption, for Marcee, it has been a year of opportunity.
“I’m grateful for Felton. It’s in 2020 that my career at Felton launched amid this pandemic. Every day is a win. Every day I’m out there, connecting folks to services. I haven’t felt this fulfilled in a long time. My positive takeaway from 2020 is that it’s the year I became a member of Felton.”
For more information about Felton’s Felton Engagement Specialist Team (FEST) Program, please visit the FEST program page or contact FEST Program Director Curtis Penn at firstname.lastname@example.org or (415) 474-7310 x777.
About Felton Institute: Founded in 1889, Felton Institute responds to human needs by providing cutting edge, evidence-based mental health and social services that transform lives. Felton Institute is a tax-exempt organization registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit under EIN 94-1156530.
Offering more than 50 acclaimed and honored programs that address homelessness, mental health, prenatal, adolescent, adult and senior needs, Felton Institute provides services in San Francisco, Alameda, San Mateo, Marin, and Monterey counties.
Felton is named for its social services pioneer and executive director Dr. Katharine “Kitty” Felton who was called the ”conscience of San Francisco” and was committed to ensuring that children and families in crisis have access to social services and resources in order to help them build upon their inherent strengths and develop self-sufficiency. www.felton.org