LifePath Case Manager isn’t afraid to ask the hard questions, broach tough topics

LifePath Case Manager isn’t afraid to ask the hard questions, broach tough topics

Eric Smith draws from his own life to help men at the rescue mission move forward.

Eric Smith began working at the front desk of the LifePath Christian Ministries Men’s Shelter in December 2020. He had no college degree or social work experience. He just knew he wanted to help people.

When a new guest would come to the window to register for a meal or safe place to sleep, most front desk employees would write down basic information on the rapid-intake form. Eric would go deep and ask the difficult questions.

“By the time the case managers got their caseload,” he says, “there was a whole lot of information that they wouldn’t have got if it wasn’t for me.”

Connecting on a deeper level

Within three months, Eric was offered a position as a Case Manager at LifePath. While some might enter that position with a college degree, LifePath saw an opportunity to help Eric build a career, and they invested in his professionalism and training.

In that role, Eric works with 20 men on average, helping to build trust, transparency, and truth. He assists the men in setting goals and navigating resources to find housing, job, and recovery services.

Soon after assuming the post, Eric began offering life skills classes to the men living at the shelter and male visitors who stopped in for a meal and stuck around for a class.

“The more time I spend with them, the better I grow,” he says. “I love it. It’s the greatest job I’ve ever had in my life.”

When connecting with men at the shelter, Eric isn’t afraid to dive into topics often deemed taboo in male circles.

“We talk men stuff,” he says, “stuff that men don’t like to talk about–men’s emotions, men’s feelings, men dealing with tears, men dealing with pain and heartbreak and breakup.”

Eric’s classes have grown from two or three participants to nearly 20 at every session. He has gleaned much of his insight from his life experiences. He was born into the Christian faith but failed to follow God for much of his life. He often found himself on the brink of drug addiction and alcoholism.

A life U-turn

During a stint in prison, Eric decided he was ready to turn his life around and turn back to God.

“All these guys, I always remind them, once you come through LifePath’s door the judgment stops,” he says. “I can’t judge you for what you’ve been through because I might have been there.”

Through that message of hope, grace, and forgiveness, Eric has seen many of the men he serves get off the street and reclaim their lives. His LifePath office wall is covered with notes from men he’s poured his caring into.

“I fell, but I got up, and I want people to go along,” he says. “I don’t want to leave people behind. I want people to succeed.”

A career awaits

LifePath Christian Ministries is hiring. Join our compassionate team of Christians called to love, honor, and serve the people who come to us for help. Learn how to apply here.

Eric’s favorite scripture verse

“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” — Psalm 121:1-2