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Why our Staff Loves working at Villa of Hope

What is your name? Elizabeth Leykin, LMSW. Also know as “Lizzie”
What is your role here at the Villa? Clinical Supervisor
How long have you worked here? Can you tell us more about your role and background?  

I’ve worked at the Villa for 5 months. I am a social worker who started in supportive housing then worked in the community meeting people where they were at to reduce mental health hospitalizations, and most recently as a therapist at a community clinic. Now I’m using my clinical, community, and program management background to springboard a new program. It involves learning a lot of the regulation, budgeting, and supervision skills that are taking me to the next level of my career.

What is your personal story and how did it lead you to the Villa?  

I moved to Rochester after my spouse lost his job in the pandemic and found work here. I wanted to return to my passion of serving adults with serious and persistent mental illness, to be in the community, and to grow in my career path as a social worker. I want to spend my days with purpose and with people. I think some people see that our systems are broken and feel the only options are to rail against it or try to fix it, and I respect that work—it’s important. But I think there is a third way of existing in it and being with people through it—there is so much injustice, and we still have to figure out how to get through today. It can be humbling, exhausting work. My spiritual tradition has a saying, “It is not your duty to finish the work, but neither are you at liberty to neglect it.” I think that says something about the importance of being present for the struggle even amidst the heartbreak of the greater brokenness.

What do you like most about working for the Villa?  

The people are the best part of the Villa. There is so much wisdom here at every level. These are people who are drawn to serve, who have patience, who have seen some things, and who have something to teach about getting through it with grace. I feel privileged to learn from them.

If you had unlimited resources, what is something you would change or implement to support the people we serve?  

We are definitely in a housing crisis. Housing is unaffordable for many and often poorly maintained. It can be so hard to get your life together if you don’t have a safe, stable place to live. I would have a massive re-investment in public, affordable, and supportive housing, expand land trusts, and re-zone cities to allow denser building. But I would start with listening to residents and experts about their housing needs and dreams.

What would you say to someone who is considering working at the Villa?  

Organizations are not infallible–they are just groups of people doing their best. Focus on what you can do—not what you can’t. Make your corner of the world a better place and be a person that people want to work with.


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