“Day to day, I help the most vulnerable homeless families and individuals who are in immediate crisis stabilize through various safety net supports.”
LaShawnda Barker exudes compassion. Her passion and commitment to the citizens of Sacramento County is only matched by her passion for the community as a whole. LaShawnda is a social worker with the Sacramento County Department of Human Assistance (DHA) who provides case management and assistance to those experiencing homelessness or are in danger of becoming homeless.
Additionally, LaShawnda helps people who are stranded in Sacramento through the County’s Return to Residency Program, which helps transport people wanting to get back to their home town.
She coaches her clients on how to advocate for themselves, where and how to locate social service supports, places to access food, shelter, employment and medical care. Her goal is to support a person toward the path of self-sufficiency so they no longer need DHA services or the safety supports.
“LaShawnda is an amazing supporter, advocate and leader in the movement to end homelessness,” said Homeless Services Program Manager, Julie Field. “She works tirelessly to have a positive impact on our community and has the skills to boost people to new heights. LaShawnda blends empathy and compassion with tough love like no one I have ever seen. She guides people to seek out new resources and find strength from within to manage the hardships of an unsheltered life. LaShawnda is an asset to DHA and our Homeless Services Division and she works hard to make the community a better place every day.”
Basically, LaShawnda spends her days changing people’s lives, giving them hope and helping them to become self-sufficient. LaShawnda is making a difference for the residents of Sacramento County.
Why did you go into this career?
I am very compassionate and love helping people. I am a strong advocate for people in need. The best thing about helping people is not that they always acknowledge or say thank you but that I feel like I am doing my part in “Changing the World from here” - making a difference.
What is your favorite part about your job?
Meeting new people and learning new cultures/diversities. I enjoy learning new methods and/or services to help people. I love the idea of trying new alternatives to solve the issues at hand. The best part of my job is problem solving. Being told it is impossible or “You can’t do that” and creating or navigating solutions within the structure of the rules-policies-procedures while also thinking outside of the box to develop and implement new ideas.
What do you wish you had more time for?
Travel to Caribbean islands, dance and listen to podcasts or audiobooks. I listen to all types of podcasts, including, NPR, TedRadio, and one of my favorites, Grammar Girl.
What is something you want people to know about DHA?
DHA is on the cutting edge of innovation, we are doing our best to stay on target with technology and the needs of Sacramento County residents. With the housing crisis things are even more difficult. I want people to know that we all must work together as a community to tackle this problem. The core values of DHA includes the delivery of services to customers with compassion, integrity, trust and innovation and improving the lives of others improves the life of our whole county.
What do you do in your free time?
Free time… I am a board member for Sacramento Housing Alliance
, a nonprofit coalition that works to ensure equitable public policies for people in the Sacramento Region. I take drives to the coast or mountains to either sit by the lake, beach or near huge trees. I visit different lighthouses throughout the year, my favorite is Point Reyes. I try to balance stress of work with a scripture verse, mindful breathing exercises and nature walks. I binge watch old television series and occasionally I crochet very simple nothing-fancy blankets. The best of my free time is spent with family and friends.
What about your personal life?
I am native of Oakland, CA, and completed my undergraduate studies at Grambling State University, home of the World Famed Tiger Marching Band and The Infamous Football Coach Eddie Robinson. I am a mother of twin college student athletes -- my daughter graduated from New Mexico State, and my son attends Chico State.