Staff Highlight: Catherine Hee of the PPR Program

  • Photo Credit: Milton Lindsay

In order to highlight the vital work, energy, and perspective that our staff bring to NSC, communications staff interviewed current staff members to showcase various programs. Read below for a Q and A with Catherine Hee, a Case Manager with the PPR team.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What did you study in school? How did you become involved with the Nationalities Service Center?
I just completed my Masters in Social Work at Widener University and my favorite classes involved international social work and working with people who have dealt with traumatic events. The second year of my Masters I interned with the Philadelphia Partnership for Resilience (PPR) at NSC working with survivors of torture.

During my internship, I entered a few clients into the program and worked with them throughout the year. I also did research for the case managers on resources available in Philadelphia and gathered data for grant reporting. In the fall, I helped organize a trip for our clients to Ellis Island and in the spring, I was able to hold a group for children of our clients. NSC hired me to work part-time that spring and I started working full-time the week my classes ended. I was excited to learn more and continue working with the immigrant population.

What do you do in your role as a Case Manager for the PPR program?
As a case manager, I conduct screenings to see if someone qualifies for our program. I then meet with them to ask about their needs and goals. We then create a plan for how we can work together to meet those goals which can range widely. I have had clients work towards learning English or going back to school, getting a job, navigating health insurance and benefits, among others. I help by connecting them to resources and working with them to gain the knowledge and confidence to do these things themselves.

Outside of work, what are your interests and hobbies?
I love to read, nonfiction in particular, and almost always carry a book with me. I will also take any excuse I can find to be outside, especially now that it is summer. I enjoy hiking and camping and go paddle boarding whenever I can find the time.

What is the most fulfilling part of your role?
My favorite part of this job is when a client achieves something that they have been working hard to do. I love being able to watch someone become more independent and see their self-confidence grow.

What are three words to describe the Nationalities Service Center?
Community. Awareness. Inclusivity.

What is your favorite thing about NSC’s culture?
I think NSC does a great job at looking at people holistically and truly caring about the well-being of both staff and clients. We work hard to be a trauma-informed workplace, which allows our clients to feel safe and understood. This also benefits staff as it provides resources and avenues to seek guidance. I have really benefitted from the knowledge and support of other staff members.

What do you want folks to know more about NSC--the work we do, the clients we serve, and immigration and refugee services in general?
There is no one typical refugee or immigrant in the United States. On our team alone, we work with people from over 40 countries who speak nearly that many languages. Many of the people we work with have experienced war and human rights abuses but I am continually impressed by their resilience. I think it is important to remember that while we may be introducing them to life in the United States, we have so much to learn from their experiences, ideas, and strength.