Guest Navigators: The Unsung Heroes
Compassionately caring on the front lines
On any given day, you’ll find hundreds of hungry guests trickling in the front doors of St. Anthony’s Dining Room for a warm welcome and a nutritious meal. Among the first smiling faces to greet them are often those of our Guest Navigators and guest services representatives, dedicated staff members trained to compassionately address the individual needs of guests right there on the spot. “Everyone on this team expresses true kindness, concern and empathy ten-fold,” says Christopher Pellouchoud, Assistant Manager of Guest Engagement in St. Anthony’s Dining Room. “We are here to engage with people and connect on a human level because we really do care.”
From lending a listening ear when someone just wants to be heard, to offering critical support when another may be facing an immediate crisis, these team members are on hand to meet guests wherever they are. As Christopher explains it: “If people come to us without shoes or wearing only a tee-shirt during cold weather, we make sure they leave with a coat, footwear, a blanket or other necessities. Or let’s say one of our guests in a wheelchair needs help getting home after dining with us, we’re ready and willing to assist in that way, too.”
But this is only the start of how far the impact goes. Guest Navigators and guest services representatives are also equipped to take potentially lifesaving measures in the event of an emergency due to their training in CPR and certification for administering NarCan nasal spray, a medication designed to reverse the effects of a drug overdose. What’s more, our team plays an integral role in linking our community’s most vulnerable neighbors with St. Anthony’s other critical wrap-around services. This includes a medical clinic for primary and specialty care, an addiction recovery center, a technology lab for computer access and education, and so much more.
“We act as a liaison, working on the front lines to see that everyone seeking support receives it at a moment’s notice and this extends beyond the walls of our Dining Room,” continues Christopher.
“The examples are varied—for guests who turn to St. Clare’s Care daytime shelter for a safe resting place, one of our team members is always onsite to ensure their safety. For those who want a shower or laundry access at our Hygiene Hub, we make the connections.”
Christopher himself has been in similar shoes as so many of St. Anthony’s guests—and wholeheartedly believes in the power of our community to change lives. Just a few years ago, Christopher hit rock bottom while battling addiction. “I was down to my last dollar and a day away from being homeless.”
We act as a liaison, working on the front lines to see that everyone seeking support receives it at a moment’s notice and this extends beyond the walls of our dining room.Christopher Pellouchoud, St. Anthony’s Assistant Manager of Guest Engagement
It was then that Christopher began his journey to recovery, moved into a sober living home, and later started working at St. Anthony’s. “I quickly realized this is what I’m supposed to be doing. Through my recovery and St. Anthony’s, I found a purpose in life and renewed my faith beliefs—to be as helpful as I can to my fellow human beings who are suffering just like I once did.”
When asked to describe some of the beautiful acts of kindness and human connection that inspire his work in guest engagement at St. Anthony’s, Christopher readily admits the smallest gestures oftentimes touch him the most. Like seeing a twinkle in a guest’s eye after being seated for lunch… hearing the heartfelt appreciation in a guest’s voice… giving a new pair of shoes and socks to someone who would otherwise go barefoot.
“These are just a few of the countless things that remind me of how we’re making a real difference in people’s lives. A blessing, an opportunity and hope are what this place is all about. I’ve had a lot of jobs in my life, but nothing compares to St. Anthony’s. It’s amazing.”
On top of everything, Christopher says he’s enormously grateful for the unsung heroes he works with—our Guest Navigators and guest services representatives—who give their all every day to assist struggling neighbors when help is needed the most. And he’s equally thankful for the generous community support that enables St. Anthony’s life-changing efforts.