‘Tiny’ making huge impact at St. John Center

Christen “Tiny” Herron became aware of homelessness very early in her life.  Her father was a minister whose services in downtown Louisville were often attended by homeless individuals.
“My parents taught me to love and respect the homeless, prostitutes and drug addicts.  Some of my earliest memories are of my parents bringing them home for dinner,” she explained.
Tiny became the newest member of the SJC staff on April 4.  She is a housing case manager for 17 of the Center’s housing clients.  “I like to think I’m helping them do life,” said Tiny.  “I teach them life skills and assist with filling out paperwork.”  Her duties include scheduled home visits with clients to make sure they are functioning in their communities and to ensure that they stay housed.
She says the transition to St. John Center has been wonderful.  “If I had to write a job description for myself this would be it.  I love it here,” said Tiny.  “The staff is extremely supportive of each other.  It just feels right here.  I look forward to coming to St. John Center every day.”
Maria Price, SJC executive director, is obviously pleased Tiny is here.  “Tiny is such a gift to St. John Center.  She brings a wealth of experience from her work over the last 10 years with people experiencing homelessness, especially those living on the streets,” said Maria.  “But she also brings a fresh perspective to the agency.  Adding another staff member to the team who feels passionately about her work is good for everyone.”
Tiny is a big believer in St. John Center’s focus on housing.  “The Housing First concept really makes sense.  When someone is dealing with medical or mental issues it is so important to have a stable place to start.”
Tiny is the founder of an organization calledForgotten Louisville that has been doing outreach to the homeless for 10 years.  The group visits the homeless, feeds them, and provides whatever other comforts it can.  “I’ve been all over Louisville feeding the homeless.  I started serving food out of the trunk of my car anyplace I found people in need,” she said.
Some of the men Forgotten Louisville serves Tiny now sees among St. John Center guests and her own housing clients.  “It is neat to see some of the same population I used to see living under a bridge or in a tent becoming productive members of society,” she said.
When it comes to serving the homeless, Tiny does not give up easily.  ”There are lots of resources for the homeless in Louisville, but nobody is going to get up out of the gutter without someone extending a hand to help pull them out,” she said.  “People say you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.  But I always wonder what happens if it decides to drink the 19th time they are lead to the water?”
Tiny spent 19 years as a clinical assistant in obstetrics/gynecology at University Hospital.  Unfortunately, her medical know-how is coming in handy since she is helping care for her boyfriend who was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident last month.  He is recovering at home but faces months of rehabilitation.
Tiny is the mother of three children, ages 23, 16 and 14.