People of Housing Security:
Middle Way House interim executive director wears many hats
In Bloomington, there are many resources available for those experiencing housing insecurity. Among these resources is Middle Way House, an agency that provides supportive and empowering services for survivors of domestic abuse, sexual assault, stalking and human trafficking. Heading Home had the privilege of talking to Carrie Stillions, who is currently the interim executive director at Middle Way House. Prior to this position, Carrie worked as the Crisis Intervention Services Coordinator at Middle Way House.
For Carrie, a typical day is filled with a variety of tasks, which makes “every day goes by fast,” she said. In the role of interim executive director, Carrie has taken on more administrative tasks. Along with this, she works with The Rise, Middle Way House’s transitional housing program. The Rise is a two-year transitional housing program to help clients find housing again. In this program, clients also focus on healing and mental health, and are exposed to resident support groups and advocates to help navigate housing. Carrie also serves as the point of contact to help support staff. Carrie truly wears many hats at Middle Way House.
Carrie was inspired to do this work from her own experience of being a survivor of domestic violence and housing insecurity. It feels empowering to make a difference, she said, and she wishes she these services had been available to her at the time of her need.
Carrie joined Middle Way House because she has an appreciation for the impact the services have on clients. In this work, staff help people who are suffering, making some days more difficult than others. That’s one reason why Carrie likes to focus on celebrating “little victories.” She said reminding herself of these things and focusing on the present really helps. Carrie tries to keep her attitude positive not only for herself but for the sake of others. “These are people’s lives and how we interact with them matters,” Carrie said.
We asked Carrie what she thought people should know about housing insecurity. She said that people often don’t realize it, but domestic violence and housing insecurity are typically connected. When someone is in a situation where their current home environment is unsafe, putting them in danger, the only way to safety is to flee from the home. This can then result in survivors becoming homeless.
“Everyone deserves to be believed, not judged for their choices.” – Carrie Stillions
“Everyone deserves to be believed, not judged for their choices,” Carrie said, because you never know the full story. “No one owes us their story,” she added. All they ask for is support and guidance when trying to navigate these difficult parts of their lives. We’re all in this together, she said. “There is no us versus them. It’s just us.”
About the People of Housing Security: This series highlights the work of those committed to improving the lives of residents in South Central Indiana. Find all the articles in this series here.