“Difference Makers” is a blog series highlighting many of the incredible employees at Catholic Charities NH, each making a positive and unique impact in helping individuals and families across New Hampshire move their lives forward.
In this edition, we meet Amber Findley, thrift shop and donations manager at New Generation in Greenland, the newest program of Catholic Charities NH. She’s a mom of two girls and a former resident in New Generation’s shelter for women and children who are facing homelessness. Amber embodies the virtues of giving back and paying it forward, which stem from the central theme of her life: love. She loves her job, her children, her New Generation family and all those she comes in contact with at the thrift shop – creating a positive energy that is contagious.
Let’s get to know Amber!
How long have you been employed at New Generation & how would you describe your roles?
In October 2019, I started as a volunteer in New Generation’s Thrift Shop and I got really connected with people and the community, so I asked if I could start working there. At that time, I was finishing up school to become a medical billing and coding specialist, but I just fell for the store and before I knew it, I was managing it. I was also working overnight shifts as an RSS (residential services specialist) with the women residents at the New Generation house, which is staffed 24/7. So, I was doing both jobs at first and eventually just ran the store and furniture barn.
What led you to New Generation to begin with?
I was living in Kansas with my two daughters and had an opportunity in Atlanta. It turned out not being what I thought it would be so we got stuck there. My sister, who lived in Alabama, came to pick us up and we had this grand plan to live together, but that did not work out either. While that was happening, a really good friend from Kansas moved to New Hampshire and we made a plan to start a cleaning business together, so I moved here and stayed with her. Unfortunately, that also did not work out and six months later, my girls and I were homeless and living in shelters.
Around this time, I had heard about New Generation and was trying to work out a plan to move in here. When I first visited and found out more about the program, it just felt right. I was put on a waitlist and soon after, someone moved out and I took that spot with my girls.
What was the client experience like and how did you end up as an employee?
New Generation focuses on women and their children first, and helps mothers to become best version of themselves – for their children and for themselves. The thing that stands out is the focus on accountability – everyone has to be accountable for their situation. It is also a structured environment. Residents are on a schedule (from 8am-3pm each day) and case managers provide women with the resources that they need to find employment and permanent housing, all with the goal of helping you live independently with your children. Residents also have parenting classes and group discussion sessions on Wednesdays that are very helpful.
For me, I had just finished school to become a medical coding and billing specialist when I arrived at New Generation and with the support of everyone here, I was able to pass the test and get my certification. But by then, that path was looking more and more like a backup plan because I had already started working at the store and loved it. I didn’t know it was going to wind up like this but one thing led to another and here I am!
With employment secure, housing was next?
Yes – it was a blessing when we got housing after nine months at New Generation and it is hard to express what that meant. Being homeless for so long, with two young kids, I had so many emotions when we got the letter saying we were going to move to permanent housing.
My youngest daughter just recently stopped saying ‘thank you’ to me for our apartment, and we moved out of New Generation in 2020. She would say, “Mom, I love it here, I don’t want to leave – thank you, Mom,” and she just now started being OK sleeping on her own, so there’s several different battles that you face with homelessness and each family’s going to go through their own challenges.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
Seeing how many people we reach from all over New Hampshire and even into Maine. It’s amazing, we get 5-6 new customers every day and we always talk with them about what we do and how the store benefits New Generation, the house and the women. Number one, people like that they’re spending money for a good cause, and number two, people like to know that the well-loved things they donate will go to someone who truly needs and appreciates them.
I also have a co-worker who is amazing in how she speaks and connects with people. The two of us together give so much love and that’s what people want, so when you come into the store, you can feel that energy. It’s like our sign says outside – “Give Love, It’s Free.”
What is the response from your customers?
Every day people share how much the store has meant to them. We get single moms from all over the area and single dads come in too, and they’re so grateful that we’re here. We can provide them with affordable and clean clothes, affordable and clean toys – plus they love to support the New Generation cause. People see how much we love our job and love what we do – so there you go, love is bringing people to the store!
What is your favorite memory of working at New Generation?
There are so many but my top one right now is the ribbon cutting ceremony for the playground and fence that happened just a few weeks ago on June 3rd. It was so awesome to meet our donors and so many cool people, who raised so much money for the kids to get the playground – seeing them play on that is just awesome.
How has working at New Generation helped you develop professionally?
Elsy Cipriani became our new director last year and anything she sets out to do, she does. Everything she has promised me, she has delivered and I have learned a lot from her too. She is a great mentor who has so much experience in this type of setting, and with her knowledge and resources, she has really helped me grow as a manager to be the best version of myself and to consistently keep trying to be better. I also know if I ever needed any additional support, Catholic Charities is there for me too.
Describe New Generation in three words…
Generous. Loving. Compassionate.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work? What are some of your hobbies?
I love to go to movies with my girls and play soccer with my daughter. She’s 12 and it’s amazing how athletic she is; she just started playing lacrosse too. I can play soccer with her but I’m passing on learning lacrosse!
What do you love about New Hampshire?
I love being so close to all the beaches – we go to Rye, Wallis Sands and Hampton all the time. We bring picnics and my youngest loves to make sand castles and play in the mud. It’s a great family time.
What is your favorite motto or quote?
Practice what you preach. Hypocrisy is one of my biggest pet peeves and I cannot stand it. If you say you’re going to do something or preaching about something, you’d better be walking that walk. I’m just really big on that and I live by that.
What is your favorite book?
“The Giver” by Lois Lowry. Without giving it all away, it’s about what is supposed to be a utopian world and a boy who goes against it. I like it because the main character is pushing back against society, trying to find the truth, and not giving up.
Who is the person (or persons) you admire most?
My mom – the woman I call my mom is not my birth mom, she is the mother of one of my high school friends, that I moved in with when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter. I look up to her because she met her husband when he was overseas in the Air Force and she came to the US not knowing any English, actually learning the language by watching Sesame Street. She had two kids and raised them graciously, even though her husband was gone a lot of the time with the Air Force. She has always been there for me and I just admire her because she went through a lot and she never gave up.
If you were to write a book about yourself, what would you name it?
“The Goof Troop.” It would be about me and my two daughters. We’re crazy and goofy and we’ve been through a lot together. You’ve got to keep that positive energy coming – it’s what keeps me so young!
Are you interested in becoming a key part of our mission-driven team and amazing culture, helping others while growing a rewarding career as Amber has? Click here for our many openings in healthcare, social services, administration and more!