Nate started doing social work in 2006 in Stockton, where he did gang intervention with at-risk youth. He moved to Sacramento in 2012, and when the Roads Home program came to that city in 2018, he had just started looking for a new opportunity. Since then he has been doing outreach to Veterans experiencing homelessness throughout Sacramento county and the surrounding region.
Nate’s strength is in his ability to collaborate and build relationships, not just with clients, but with partners as well. His background in public relations has helped him make connections with people like Stephanie Voigtlander, who works at Show Up Sac, a mobile shower service in Sacramento.
Stephanie said of Nate, “[he] introduced himself to me and explained what your organization was all about and how we might be able to partner together to help out our veterans within our unhoused community. Since that initial meeting Nathan has consistently not only followed through with EVERYTHING he has ever told me, but has followed through with EVERY person that I have called him for help with.”
Although not a Veteran himself, Nate has family ties to the military, in his grandfather who was a WWII combat Veteran. Nate remembers how his grandfather didn’t like to talk about his experiences in the war, so he understands how Veterans, especially those who have experienced moral injury, can be particularly difficult to reach.
He does this work because he wants to make the world a better place for his three children. “I believe no one should be homeless,” says Nate. “I’ve seen kids, mothers, fathers, grandfathers out there. I don’t want my daughters to see what I’ve seen.”
[Nate] is out here serving and doing what he can to make a difference. When you’re on the street so many people promise so much and NEVER follow through. The community doesn’t expect anyone to do anything for them without expecting anything in return. Nathan’s commitment and professionalism within our community has helped to bridge this gap and to show first hand that they do matter and we do care. They have come to trust and depend on us and that is a HUGE barrier to break down.”Stephanie Voightlander, Show Up Sac
One of Nate’s most challenging and rewarding cases was Veteran N.S., who he met before he even joined the Roads Home program. N.S. had been living on the streets in the Sacramento area for over 20 years. He was usually found sleeping under freeway overpasses and was well known to the Police Department. He had been bouncing around between programs and case managers for years, but struggled to maintain contact and keep his documents in good order. Each time he entered case management, he would have to start all over again.
Finally his name came up on a Continuum of Care priority list. Nate knew exactly who he was. He had met him before, while working with Sacramento Steps Forward. Nate volunteered to work with him again because they already had established a rapport.
Thanks to Nate’s help, N.S. was finally able to move into his own place in January 2021, but Nate’s job didn’t stop there. Shortly after he moved in, he began suffering from a serious infection in his hand, caused by the unhygienic conditions of living outside. His case manager couldn’t convince him to go to the hospital, so she called Nate, who was able to convince him to go in for treatment.
We asked Nate what he wanted people to know about the population he works with. “They are human, despite their mental health or addiction. Those things can be fixed if we all work together to fix it. Some people just need a helping hand.”