When Millicent Owusu was a girl growing up in North Carolina, she noticed something: All kinds of people seemed to feel comfortable telling her their problems. She would listen to all of them. She didn’t mind it, and in fact she liked it. “I love helping people,” said Millicent who has been a case manager and counselor at NEW’s permanent-supportive housing program, Rachael’s House for six years. “What I do is really a calling.”
For more than 25 years now, Millicent has worked as a social worker in different states and with different kinds of people, from domestic abuse victims, children in foster care, homeless and substance abusers, and now with women who have experienced homelessness.
She has a Master’s degree in Public Administration with a concentration in Human Services and recently earned a second Master’s in Critical Mental Health Counseling. She will be taking the National Counseling Exam soon.
Millicent believes that the biggest gift she offers her clients is a feeling of comfort they get from her that allows them to open up and express their feelings. One woman, “T” came to NEW recently and would not talk to anyone. T had suffered a mental breakdown and had lost her job, her house and her kids. The trauma manifested itself in a muteness that no one could break. But then, for some reason, T started talking to Millicent and little by little Millicent could help her. That Millicent said, “was a real success.”
Millicent has loved working at NEW where, she said, because the atmosphere is more relaxed, she is able to do what she does best: build strong relationships centered on trust. “NEW is the best job I’ve ever had,” she said. “I love NEW because of the atmosphere and the ability to have a person-to person relationship with the ladies.”
With Millicent’s new Master’s degree, she has a goal of eventually opening her own counseling service someday, one that focuses on the whole person, in mind, body and spirit.
“Working with people to help them get to a better place is definitely what I am meant to do with my life,” she said. “It’s not always easy but it is a real privilege to be with people at their darkest hours, and help them work their way up to see the light.”