Published July 18. 2011 4:00AM
Ben Green doesn’t mind being the only man in an office dedicated to helping homeless women overcome whatever situations have put them on the edge of society.
“I think they like having a man around,” he joked about his fellow case managers and program coordinators. “It is a very good team. In this type of work you realize you can only get so far by yourself. You need support from those around you.”
As a single father of a daughter, 10, and a son, 8, Green can relate to some traditional women’s issues.
Green, 50, started at Bethsaida on March 21. For him, the job is a nice reversal from his previous position in case management. At Stonington Institute, where he has worked on and off for 10 years, clients came ready to tell their stories and seek help.
“This is different,” Green said. “Nine times out of 10, people don’t want to change. They feel this is their life and they’re stuck there.”
Watching them change, he said, is the most rewarding part of the job, as women who had been down on themselves start to seek treatment for substance abuse, find a home and get a job.
“Seeing them blossoming and blooming,” Green said. “That’s the reward.”
He said his gender hasn’t been a problem. As with the female case managers, some women are receptive and open, while others are “standoffish,” Green said.
“The trust factor is very big,” he said. “Sometimes, they have no one to trust.”
Green often makes the rounds at downtown hangouts, including the winter hospitality center at St. James Episcopal Church in New London and in Norwich at the St. Vincent de Paul Place soup kitchen, trying to catch up with clients.
Because he has a long working relationship with the staff and some clients at Stonington Institute, he goes there frequently to meet with clients who are ready to leave the inpatient treatment center and need housing and a job.
He also works often with women referred to Bethsaida from the court system’s Alternative to Incarceration program.
He also visits retail stores and restaurants, including Stop & Shop, Burlington Coat Factory and Popeye’s restaurant, to shop for job openings for clients. He wants to expand that list.
“We have employers in the community who will hire our clients,” Green said. “They know they’re not just hiring our clients, but the (Homeless Women Deserve Treatment) team, too. They have the support network, and we’re involved in the people’s lives and treatment.”
Green started his working career as a corporate accountant. But as alcoholism had touched his family, he wanted to help people overcome the addiction. He also has been a minister at the Evans Memorial AME Zion Church in Norwich for several years. Reaching out to others in crisis felt like a natural extension of his calling.
His children seem to understand that connection, Green said.
“My kids are very intrigued and always interested in my work,” he said. “They know by being a minister, my work is to help people, and they know we are truly blessed at the things we have, because they know there are people who don’t have things.”