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Horizon House Staff Spotlight: Dana Canter

Q: What is your role at Horizon House?

A: I am part of the Housing Team. We provide intensive case management to support housing stability.  That support can look a lot of different ways.  This could be helping move folks into their homes, assist in navigating IHA and loads of paperwork required to maintain a voucher, eviction prevention, or identifying community resources for furniture or other necessities when needed. We also help our clients navigate establishing/maintaining benefits, physical and mental health care, and sometimes various parts of the legal system. Other times, folks just need someone to connect with and feel appreciated. We help create budgets, goal plans, safety plans, provide harm reduction education, and so much more. Even once someone is housed, there are so many barriers to maintaining it. We assist in supporting our clients through those seemingly endless barriers.   

Q: What brought you to Horizon House? 

A: I first came to Horizon House as an intern through Ivy Tech. I was a Guest Services Associate then. I wanted a career that would allow me to use my lived experience to support others in the community, while also securing a career that would allow a more manageable schedule for my family. I had never heard of Horizon House, but I had a very wise professor at that time who, knowing of my previous adventures in life, made the suggestion.  At 19, I had spent four years hitchhiking the country, which had crossed my path with homeless communities many times over during that time, so I was already familiar with the population I would be working with. After my first week working in the Dayroom, I knew I would be here for a long time! 

Q: How long have you worked at Horizon House? 

A: This is actually my second time here. My first experience was from November 2017 through May 2020.  I began my first internship in November of 2017 through Ivy Tech. Upon completion of that internship, I was hired as a Guest Services Associate while simultaneously completing a second internship. I worked as a GSA for two years. While working on my BSW at the University of Indianapolis, I completed my final practicum with the Housing Team until May 2020, through the duration of my senior year. In March of 2021, I accepted a position with the Housing Team, which is what brought me back to Horizon House. It was a big personal goal for me to end up on the Housing Team and I’m really excited to have achieved that. 

Q: What do you like most about working at HH?

A: That’s a tough question. I love that I have such strong support from my team and supervisors. It’s genuine. It is crucial in the roles we are in here and I feel like my colleagues really step up. That effort is evident when I hear our clients say that they feel seen, heard, and supported. The HH staff are passionate about what they do, and I believe that it truly makes a difference in the quality of services that are provided. As someone who has lived on the other side of social services for many years, I really appreciate that about Horizon House. When our clients feel seen and heard, it can plant a seed of hope and you start to see changes being made in feelings of self-worth and confidence, and that’s huge. I feel honored to have the trust of my housing clients and the ups and downs that they allow me to be a part of. 

Q: What do you hope to accomplish this year in your role?

A: I want growth in my skill set. It’s a big role to learn with a whole lot of working parts. I want to expand my skills to offer my clients the support that they deserve, and be as efficient in my role as possible. As tough as Housing is at many times, I have some amazing colleagues and an especially amazing Program Manager that I have the opportunity to learn from and they definitely keep me inspired when things get difficult. I keep running into opportunities to expand my training while working here, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to take advantage of that. 

Q: What would you like to say to donors of Horizon House? 

A: Just….thank you. Your contributions go to some pretty amazing humans, many of which I have had the privilege of getting to know. Never before have I worked somewhere that I was so dedicated to what I do. I am grateful for the opportunity to work in this role within the community, and I really appreciate our donors that make it possible. I have seen some wonderful generosity that has really had a positive impact on our folks.   

Q: Do you have any additional comments you’d like to add? 

When I came to Horizon House as an intern, I was back in school at 30 as a single mom with two kiddos, one year into recovery, and living with family after leaving a DV situation and unable to afford my own housing – especially being in school full time with internships. It wasn’t an easy four years by any means and it was quite rocky at times. This job gave me my confidence back after the toughest periods of my life. I do believe the support I had at Horizon House is what kept me going. It became an incredible learning opportunity that was invaluable to my experience in this field, from working with both clients and staff alike. As my supervisors, both Beverly Bell and Lillian Herbers-Kelly provided ongoing support when I thought I wouldn’t be able to push any harder. It wasn’t only their encouragement, but also their incredible, unique insight that saw me through. Seriously, they are beyond amazing and I feel pretty lucky to have the opportunity to learn from them both. Finally, I had a chance to start a career. My past no longer defined me, but rather it is contributing to change within my community. Once I had the chance to thrive, I finally did. Thanks to Horizon House, I get to share that. It sounds really cheesy, but this agency really has a special place in my heart!  

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