The Power of Compassion: An interview with Affordable Housing Manager, Hanna Ibrahim

We’re often asked how we as an organization practice the notion of leading with compassion. It’s the backbone of our organization and the guiding force in everything we do.

Someone who puts this mentality first, all year long, is our Affordable Housing Manager, Hanna Ibrahim. We sat down with her to learn how small acts of kindness or simple gestures go a long way for families experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness in Orange County.

Q: Tell us more about your role with Families Forward.

A: I’ve been working at Families Forward for nearly four years, starting in our career services program connecting our families to jobs and resources. Since then, I have become the Affordable Housing Manager, overseeing program services with our tenants and working with families to secure and maintain affordable housing. My team and I work closely with our clients to not only maintain a safe place to live but empower them with the tools and resources they need to become self-sufficient. 

Q: How do you practice compassion within your role at Families Forward?

A: I truly believe that just showing up for our clients every day is a compassionate first step. Being a constant support that follows through on commitments and advocates for their well-being is a big part of what we all do at Families Forward. We demonstrate to everyone who comes through our doors that we are invested in their future, and we are in their corner every step of the way. That could be listening to them talk about their day or working through a specific problem they are experiencing. It lets them know they are not alone and we truly care.

Q: What are some of your favorite memories that stand out from your time at Families Forward?

A: When I was working in the career services program, there were two families that grew with me, as I was moving up in my role, and they hold a special place in my heart. Once they were housed, I continued to work closely with them. Their progress made me so proud every step of the way.

Q: What messages do you want to share about the stigma surrounding family homelessness?

A: The pictures you see portrayed on the news are not an accurate representation of the homeless families in our community. Homelessness is largely due to the unsustainable housing costs and lack of affordable units. The cost of living in Orange County is extraordinary—and frankly, many families may be one missed paycheck or medical emergency away from losing the roof over their heads. Their stories are so much deeper than we can assume, and we need to practice compassion and do all we can to lift each other up during times of need.

Q: Lastly, what inspires you about your work with Families Forward?

A: Being able to empower our clients to attain self-sufficiency inspires me. We not only connect them with the immediate resources they need like nutritious food from our food pantry or rental assistance, but we empower them by connecting them to resources that teach them how to grow and ultimately thrive. It truly is the greatest reward.

You made it to the end. Now you can view Hanna’s award-winning costumes: GandALF, French Toast and David Buoy