Joanne James — A Light in a Dark Place

Joanne James has been with Pine Street Inn since 2016, working in various roles, including with the Triage team that works to prevent people from becoming homeless. Joanne is currently the director of Yawkey House, where she works to build a team that focuses on making the lives of our guests better.

“I have a lot of empathy for the guests,” Joanne says. “I was homeless for almost five years after I graduated high school and have struggled with addiction. While I’ve been in recovery for many years, I can identify with people who are facing similar challenges.”

Joanne found her way out of homelessness by joining the U.S. Army. “The Army was pivotal for me,” Joanne says. “I learned about leadership, the importance of teamwork and how to maintain morale. These are skills I use every day.”

Following the Army, Joanne worked in the corporate world for a few years but always knew that she wanted to work in a field that changed lives. “Some people come to Pine Street and they think their situation is hopeless. I want to inspire others and be a light in a dark place.”

Joanne continues, “Many of the people we see feel disempowered. We help guests understand that they do have agency and the power to change their circumstances. Sometimes those changes are incremental — maybe we help a guest feel heard, enroll in a job training program or get into an addiction recovery program. Small changes are meaningful. You don’t need to move a mountain.

“The caring leadership and empathy of the staff comes through at all levels of the organization. People who are facing homelessness need to know that if they ask for help, we’re here for them.”