Other job experience: Food and beverage director, Ritz-Carlton, Dearborn, Mich., restaurant owner, Dearborn, Mich.
Education: High school graduate, Dearborn, Mich., working on bachelor's degree in anthropology at Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton.
Personal: Age 49. Born in Cleveland.
Family: Single. Children: Ilona, 27; Audrey, 25, Khalil, 22.
How did you get into your vocation?
I had just moved to South Florida and really needed a job. While checking out various churches in the area, I saw an ad in one of the bulletins for this position. That was 12 years ago. I had always really wanted to be a social worker, and I have food service background, so it's a good blend of two things I enjoy.
Favorite part of your work?
When I see people that I've been working with long-term accomplish their goals, it's a great feeling. One guy I've worked with the entire time I've been here has been homeless for years. We began working to get him a passport, and it took a year and a half, but with some help we were able to get it. Now he's smiling all the time and feels like he's a real person and has hope. That, to me, is better than a bonus.
Watching people spin their wheels, especially when you see their potential.
How do you like to relax?
I like playing tennis and swimming. I also bike about 25 miles a week.
What book have you been recommending lately?
I usually have three or four books going at once. Lately I've been reading anthropology books for my coursework, and I'm reading "The Little Giant of Aberdeen County" (by Tiffany Baker). I also love historical fiction. I love looking at the evolution of people and like to imagine what their lives were like. That has a magic for me. I like Sharon Kay Penman and Octavia Butler in particular.
Favorite vacation spot?
I usually stay home because it's the best place for me to rest. When I travel, I visit my sister in Wilton, Conn,. and my daughter in Dearborn, Mich. I also love the Keys. It's like stepping into a different world.
My favorite is "Benny and Joon" with Johnny Depp, for the quirkiness of the characters. I also like the "Terminator" movies, but I don't really know why.
Favorite music? Favorite performer(s)?
I really enjoy classical music for every day, and I like rock 'n' roll, too. Some of my favorite artists are Lifehouse, John Mellencamp and Matchbox 20.
What person in history would you like most to meet?
I would have liked to meet some of the great female leaders. Cleopatra, Mary Queen of Scots and Mary Magdalene come to mind. I would have liked to see their bearing, hear them speak, see that part of history and watch them in action. I also would have liked to meet and know more about my mother's grandmother. There were strong women in my family.
Do you have a treasured possession?
Probably my books. If my house were on fire, I'd want to take them all. Sometimes, when I try to cull them, I just can't get rid of any.
Your most memorable spiritual experience?
We have morning meetings regularly, and we always end in prayer. Sometimes, when I'm praying aloud, I can feel I am speaking words that need to be heard, as though God's working through me. I get tingles.
Something most people don't know about you?
I employ "scream therapy" on a regular basis. It really works to decrease stress, especially while driving; it's not disturbing anyone else. Often, that turns into singing, which probably no one else wants to hear either!
Is there one thing you can't stand?
My floors have to be absolutely clean all the time. It drives my kids crazy.
Motto, or favorite scripture verse?
"The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays." -- Soren Kierkegaard
What would you like most to be remembered for?
That I didn't take myself too seriously.