Q & A with Social Services Administrative Assistant, Allyson Gray

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Q & A with Social Services Administrative Assistant, Allyson Gray

In her role as an administrative assistant within our social services department, Allyson has a direct view of the impact our services have on the community.

Read below to learn more about the significance of this work through her perspective:


Share some information about your background before working with Guardian Angel: 

Before this, I was a receptionist at a mental health and substance abuse clinic. I’m also currently in school for social work.


How did you first encounter Guardian Angel? What were your initial impressions of the organization?

I saw a posting for the position on a job board, so I applied and I’ve been here since February. I actually hadn’t known about the social services aspect of Guardian Angel. I had passed the Childcare Development Center before since it’s on the Northside of St. Louis, but the social services building is located on the Southside, so I just never really had a reason to go to that part of the city.


What’s the impression you have now that you’re familiar with the organization?

I think Guardian Angel is an awesome organization, especially for it being such a small agency. With the utility and rental assistance, and even the food pantry services, we do a lot. We really see quite a few clients each day. I really think it’s an awesome organization. 


What’s a typical day like in your role? 

Honestly, there are a variety of types of days. My title is administrative assistant, but I sometimes I help with casework, which can include doing the intakes, certifications, or showing someone around the pantry, things like that. 

My administrative duties include scheduling appointments and making sure everything is filled out properly. 


With all your interaction with clients, you’re able to directly witness the impact Guardian Angel makes. Do you have any testimonials that speak to that impact? 

I can’t think of one specific client, but since I’ve been here, I’ve had clients who’ve hugged me because they didn’t have food in the house that day, or didn’t know how they were going to pay their rent or were out of a job. I’ve had hugs, I’ve had tears…. I’ve definitely gotten to see that impact on their lives. 


What is one of the things that helps Guardian Angel stand out from other programs? 

Our food pantry, especially, is different because we don’t just give you a box of food, you walk through and pick out the things from the shelves, refrigerators or freezers that you and your family will eat. I think that really makes a difference because if someone just gives you a box of food, it doesn’t really help you if it’s not something you eat. It just goes to waste. It doesn’t benefit the agency who wasted the resources to give out that food that’s just going to go in the trash, and it doesn’t benefit the family who will still be hungry. 


Summers are busy for food pantries because school is out and kids don’t have that guaranteed meal. Were you able to witness a shift in needs from food pantry clients during that time?

Clients can visit our food pantry every 30 days, but kids aren’t necessarily conscious about conserving food, so sometimes clients don’t make it their full 30 days without having to come back. I can definitely see the difference in need from when I started in February to now when kids are out of school. 

With the new Social Services Center opening later this year, there will be a lot of upcoming changes. What are the ones you’re most excited about? 

Right now, we’re in a two-story building. There’s a little lobby when you come in, but the offices are upstairs. My office is upstairs, and the kitchen, where some of our workshops are held, is upstairs. So I’m looking forward to the building being more accessible for our clients. Also, I’m looking forward to having a parking lot. Right now, there’s metered parking in front of our building, so I’m very excited that we’ll have a designated parking lot, so clients won’t have to worry about that extra cost. 


What is it that stands out to you about being part of the Guardian Angel family? 

I mentioned before, I’m studying social work and I truly have a passion for helping people leave in a better position than they were in when they walked in. And working here and allows me to immediately see that – whether it’s with the food pantry, or being able to call someone to say “we can help you on your light bill this month” and hearing the sigh of relief.

I’m blessed to be able to work with people who share that same passion. There’s only about six or seven of us in the Social Services building and we all truly care about the community and make sure no one leaves here hungry. Even if it’s not something we’re able to provide them with immediately, we at least make sure we send them some resources to point them in the right direction. I don’t have that dread of going to work in the morning because I see that we’re helping people and see what difference we’re making in the community – even for people who aren’t necessarily registered as our clients. 


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