Meet Gayan Troussard
“It’s going to be okay, you can come out the other side.” These are the warm words Gayan Troussard, Division Director of Valley Place, imparts on every resident she meets.
Gayan is no stranger to helping others. Her long background in the field of social work makes it possible for her to do her job, but it is her passion that motivates her. Gayan tells us, “I enjoy helping people live their best life – it’s the fuel that drives me.”
Gayan’s experience has included time as an Executive Director of a non-profit in Virginia, and helping victims of domestic violence. All of this history has been needed when helping new residents of Valley Place, Friendship Place’s newest program. Valley Place is a bridge housing program, where people can come to reset, prior to moving on to more permanent housing.
New residents of Valley Place arrive with serious challenges. Many of the residents have come from encampments cleared by local and federal officials, but all of them have experienced trauma. Some are survivors of domestic assault. Others come with undiagnosed mental health issues. Still others suffer from substance abuse. Valley Place offers an opportunity for healing to all.
Gayan tells us: “First you have to start by addressing those issues – stability and safety – that’s your basic goal.” Gayan continues, “you have to build trust, we’re so new to them.” Since other systems have let residents down in the past, this isn’t always easy.
It often starts with a meal. Many residents haven’t had access to a clean place to stay or decent food for some time. “People are moved and grateful for everything we do, even if it’s just offering a choice between a turkey or a ham sandwich. They couldn’t remember the last time they had that choice.”
One woman told Gayan, “you actually care,” because so few other people had in the past.
After Valley Place staff have helped new arrivals settle in, they can begin looking at housing and job options. And there have been some important success stories.
One young woman, who had struggled with sobriety, is an example. She came to Valley Place needing a fresh start. Staff helped her address her troubles and saw how hard she was working to get better. Recently, she moved into her own apartment, with the help of the Valley Place team. She tells us that if it can happen for her, it can happen for anyone.