Meet Ashley Frez, Director of Transitional Housing at San Diego Rescue Mission (SDRM). Ashley began working at SDRM three years ago in the Women and Children’s Center (WCC) as On-Call Residential Advisor (RA) and shortly thereafter as Interim Case Manager.
Ashley, a native of Michigan, identifies as a humanitarian. A pivotal moment in setting her life course was during a medical mission to a remote village of Nicaragua. It was there, where she witnessed the desperation of the people for basic needs to sustain themselves and their families. The impact of the scarcity of resources, limited access to health, and systemic challenges only motivated her. “Having concern for the well-being of others was not enough. I am consistently seeking ways to alleviate suffering by actively being part of the solution.” she says.
For over 15 years, Ashley has immersed herself in diverse populations to include those living with HIV/AIDS, underserved children in grades K-12, refugees, service members/their families, and natural disaster survivors. She consistently pursues every chance to engage and embrace the opportunity to learn and grow. It is through these experiences, that Ashley has grown into her calling of servant leadership. Ashley has been influential in organizational transformations, team development, and strategic planning locally and nationally with non-profit and governmental agencies. She was instrumental in leading teams to serve others impacted by disasters while serving as the Director of Emergency Services with the American Red Cross (7 years). She continued her dedication to helping others as the Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for County Public Health (2 years).
Ashley earned her degrees in Cultural Anthropology, Psychology, Latin American & Caribbean Studies from Michigan State University. Her post graduate degree focus is Public Health and Emergency Management. Ashley prides herself in her hunger to learn and encourages everyone around her to continuously pursue education. She utilizes a combination of her education, experience, compassion, and God’s guidance, to lead the 2nd Avenue Transitional Housing program.
2nd Avenue Transitional Housing is an intermediate, long-term step between an emergency shelter and permanent housing. “Leading a program guided by trauma informed approaches, allowing for opportunity to encourage and motivate clients to create positive change within themselves is meaningful and purposeful”, Ashley says. It is a safe, supportive environment where clients can overcome trauma, address the causes of their homelessness, and rebuild their support network. Ashley is passionate about being able to lead and mentor a diverse staffing group, develop community partnerships, and being strategic in translating high-level objectives into intentional steps to accomplish goals.
Ashley is quick to acknowledge that “we work together as a team to meet clients where they are at while being equipped to encourage, guide, and support while respecting the process.” There are differing barriers each client is working to overcome. When clients achieve successes throughout the program, they typically reach a level of vulnerability that takes incredible strength and trust. It is this transformative process that is awe inspiring.
Ashley stays grounded by reflection and practice of the principles of faith, hope, and love; and is inspired by the quote, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi