February 2020 MNCHWA Community Health Worker Spotlight: Vonyee Howard

Vonyee Howard, MNCHWA Board Member
Care Coordinator at People Incorporated
Family Life Mental Health Clinic
MN CHW Certificate Holder

What do you do as a CHW?

I’m the Care Coordinator at People Incorporated – Family Life Mental Health Clinic.  I work alongside a team of mental health practitioners & clinicians and provide advocacy on behalf of consumers to communicate their needs within the organization, as well as to outside organizations.  A large part of my role is assisting consumers with connections to various community resources, including health insurance.  I also initiate referrals for MNCHOICES assessments, case management services, vocational training, support services, and other mental health programs.

What has been your favorite part of being a CHW?

My favorite part of being a CHW has always been helping people connect to the resources and services they need.  I also love when I can squeeze a smile or a laugh out of someone, just by being myself.  I realize the people I serve are dealing with some very tough times; some might even be experiencing feelings of depression and hopelessness.  To say or do something that makes someone laugh or smile during tough times warms my entire spirit.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

Most people don’t know that I’m inspired and motivated by the people I serve and by the need I see for service in our communities.

Success Story

I recently connected a consumer to a resource for a holiday food basket. She called me to personally tell me about her experience picking up the holiday food basket: “Ms. Vonyee, I want to thank you for putting me in contact with [the agency]. They had a holiday party. I met some nice people and had a wonderful time! The people there were so nice!  I wasn’t expecting anything except to pick up food, and I received so much more! Thank you SO much!”
I, of course, knew ahead of time that a holiday party was included but I didn’t think it was an important detail to mention when I provided her with this resource.  The smile and excitement in her voice over the phone was infectious; I was so happy that attending the party was a pleasant surprise for her– especially during the holiday season.

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