PITTSBURG — Through the Wesley House Rapid Rehousing and Homeless Prevention program, Case Manager Jami Crowder makes a difference in the lives of families and individuals in the community who are on the verge of losing their housing or are homeless.
Crowder and 11 others were recently recognized as a 2019 Woman of Distinction by the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce. She has a short biography and her photograph in the Chamber of Commerce’s 2019 community calendar. People may find the calendar at the chamber office.  
“It’s overwhelming to be recognized by your peers as someone who is outstanding in their field,” Crowder said. “It’s very emotional to me, I do not do this job for recognition for myself and if nobody ever knew my name I would fine with that as long as the people that I serve are able to move forward in their lives and be stable.”
Crowder said she talks to “anyone and everyone” about the services at Wesley House so that people in need can find a program that could help them move forward.
“We contribute a lot of success in this program with the partnerships we were able to build in our community through mainstream resources such as DCF and Housing Authorities, to our apartment complexes and to our many, many landlords who are willing to work with us,” she said. “And our community for being diligent and compassionate and caring and going that extra mile to find out who they need to contact our homeless folks in this community.
“It’s been a really blessing to see how compassionate people in southeast Kansas are.”
Helping those in need has become a mission for Crowder, she said. In the last year alone, her efforts have helped house 143 individuals, while at the same time working with hundreds more to remove barriers to their long term stability.
Crowder helps people who are in imminent danger of losing their housing by working with landlords and many local partnerships. She also assists people who are “literally” homeless in securing housing and maintain that housing long term.
“It’s very rewarding to see people maintain housing or gain housing and be able to get back their dignity, to have a safe, stable place where they can focus on other areas in their life, to be able to gain and maintain employment and then to see folks that had at one time had struggled and felt at the end of their rope and as low as they can get become active members of society,” she said.  
The successes the program had in the past motivates her to keep helping others, including a couple who were homeless but now are not only housed, but run their own business.
“I watched them go from being chronically homeless their entire adult lives to owning a small business in Pittsburg,” Crowder said. “It’s nice to see folks who are down on their luck actually be a contributing part of your community and to watch the way their lives have gotten better and how they feel about themselves and the community that they live in, that’s pretty awesome.”
Crowder previously worked for homeless services for over 10 years. She managed the Community Action Agency shelter in Pittsburg for eight years until the it closed because of lack of funding.

Later, Crowder said she was then given the opportunity to operate the rehousing and homeless prevention program after working in the community outreach services program at Wesley House.
“My passion lies in helping people,” she said. “I understand the struggles of families and individuals who are homeless and the financial struggles as well as the mental and emotional struggles of being homeless.
“It’s just something that I can’t imagine not doing.”
Since her job is all encompassing and she has a large family — 22 grandchildren — she spends any time she’s not at work with them. She’s dubbed, “Keeper of the Cheerios.”
In the summer, people can find her at Crawford State Park spending time with her family, skiing, tubing and other “outdoorsy” activities.
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at spotter@morningsun.net or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.