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Emily Bell Employee Spotlight: A Military Non-brat with a Heart for Veterans

Emily Edited 2

“The big moments of success are great but the little ones together make the job for me.”


Simsbury, Connecticut native, Emily Bell is the Self Sufficiency Coordinator for the newly established Friendship Place program, Families First. The pilot program is run in partnership with the Department of Housing Community Development in Maryland with a focus to end poverty in families with dependents in Prince George’s County.

Emily splits her time between the office in DC and a cubicle in Prince George’s. When she is not meeting with participants she can typically be found reaching out to landlords, pursuing job development, seeking VA benefits for clients and anything else on the endless list that could make up a consumer’s stability plan. Her overall goal: to get veteran families moved in quicker.

Emily says, “I like that my job is different every day, I like the freedom and flexibility.” As a member of a family with a long tradition of military service, Emily truly enjoys serving veterans and their families.

Emily’s father and both grandfathers were in the military. “I am the first in my family not to be in the military so I am really drawn to working with veterans,” she says. “It has informed the way I grew up. It gave me a lot of respect for military service, being able to hear the stories and language just stuck with me.”

The most difficult part of the job for Emily is accepting that she can’t help everyone. “We meet people in crisis and we can’t solve it all and it took me a long time to accept that.” At the same time, Emily says what she enjoys most about her job is the flexibility she has to work creatively to help people with individualized care. 

She also says she really appreciates the open culture at Friendship Place, both the organization’s personality and its physical space. “There are no doors. I know I can go to any one for anything and that doesn’t always happen in a work place. Everyone can offer ideas at every level. You feel valued.”

Emily with Anthony Brooks. The Brooks family was one of the first successful housing placements for the Families First program.

Before joining Friendship Place, Emily first came to the city through the Jesuit Volunteer Corps program. Through the program, she worked as a case manager at Miriam’s Kitchen where she first learned the service model focused on the consumer. Emily feels Miriam’s is also where she first realized she had heart for working with veterans. She has additional experience from her time spent at a mental health clinic while studying at Villanova. There, she worked as both a translator and a group therapy leader.

Outside of work, Emily enjoys grilling out, reading, spending time with friends and finding fun and free things to do in DC. She is engaged to be married and is enjoying planning her wedding with her fiance. Emily also hopes to earn her Masters in Social Work or Public Health and spends a lot of time studying for the GRE.

As for the future, Emily says she sees herself, “Working with this population for a long time. I would like to see the Families First program grow, it is a really worthwhile initiative,” Emily says. “It has been cool to see Veterans First grow so much since I have been here and I want to continue to grow alongside the organization.”

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