You have all heard the story about “give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; but teach a man to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime.” In
simple terms, Linda Alsharif figuratively teaches people to fish in her job as case manager for Heart Ministry Center.
Case management is a method of providing services where a professional, certified social worker assess the needs of the client and the client’s family. Consequently, the case manager arranges, coordinates, evaluates and advocates for services to meet the specific needs of the client.
“Many of the clients I see need financial or housing assistance,” Linda said. “I meet with them to see if Heart Ministry Center can help; if not, we refer them somewhere else. For example, if we know the client is a veteran, we will refer them to the VA for assistance. If we determine it is a chronic need, we empower the client to take another step, such as taking a class in financial planning or parenting, helping them find a job, offer smoking cessation classes, or talk with a landlord. We coach them into a better circumstance.”
Chief Executive Officer Eric Crawford believes Heart Ministry Center takes a unique approach to helping their clients.
“If the head of the household is not working, cannot afford food or clothing, they feel helpless — and this can lead to a downward spiral,” Eric
said. “I may learn that they cannot get to work because their car is broken down and they cannot afford the repairs. At Heart Ministry Center, we help them fix the car so they can go to work and provide for their family. We work to get to the root of the problem.”
The demographics of Heart Ministry Center clientele is changing. For example, more and more Middle Eastern refugees are coming to the center. Linda speaks Arabic, understands the culture, and makes them feel welcome and more comfortable asking for guidance.
Linda was born and raised in Morocco, and moved with her parents to Montreal, Quebec, Canada, as young adult. She earned her bachelor’s in business, and a law degree in Canada. She moved to Omaha after she married her husband, Nasser, who is a professor at the School of Pharmacy & Health Professions at Creighton. Together, they have two children. She returned to school at Creighton few years ago and obtained her bachelor’s degree in social work.
“Every day, I work very hard to help our clients find help and hope,” she said. “Recently, a woman came needing expensive diabetes medicine and she had no money. After an afternoon of calling all the resources I could, we were able to find her help in getting her medicine. It made my day! The job of a social worker doesn’t stop after 5 o’clock. We are working with human needs … not numbers. Our job is to understand and meet each client’s