In her role overseeing shelter and housing as Catholic Charities’ Senior Director of Housing Stability, Tracy Berglund works hard to make sure those most in need have a safe, dignified and secure place to sleep each night. While her work impacts thousands of lives each year, she often doesn’t get a front row seat on move in day. She doesn’t get to see the smiles and turn over the keys, not usually anyway.
Jose moved into his new room at Higher Ground Saint Paul when it opened in early January, and Tracy was there with him. She’s known Jose since 1997 when she was working for St. Stephen’s Shelter and he needed a place to sleep.
“We spoke in Spanish, as Jose spoke very little English at that time. Now, I noticed his English has progressed while my Spanish has regressed,” she said.
When Jose, 62, moved into Higher Ground Saint Paul, it was the ending of two decades of living on the streets. Jose was near the top of the list of people using the most nights of shelter and a priority to get into housing. Due to several barriers, it wasn’t possible to find a place for Jose until the innovative shelter and housing complex opened.
“I was thrilled to move Jose into Higher Ground Saint Paul,” she said. “It was a coincidence that I had the opportunity to move him in. We were short of volunteers and I was asked to help with move-ins. It just so happened that Jose was one of the three people I helped move in. It felt like an affirmation that HGSP is an important project.”
Coincidence, or simply because some things are just meant to be, Berglund said she will never forget the day she got to hand over a set of keys to Jose.
“I loved having the opportunity to move people into their new homes. It’s one of the most gratifying experiences of my career,” Berglund said.