Irene Tsikitas uses her expertise in and passions for LGBTQ and older adult-specific programming to bring growth and a breath of fresh air to TCC's operations, particularly its case management program and regularly scheduled groups and available services.
As a social worker with over eight years experience working with the LGBTQ community, Irene brings some fresh eyes to what has grown to become the department of programs and services- this department includes case management, housing, financial assistance, and the regularly scheduled groups that fill 618 West Avenue's community rooms every day.
What has been your experience at TCC so far? What are some of your favorite things? Where do you seem room to grow in the most immediate sense?
TCC is unique. I have eight years experience working at an LGBTQ community center, but each center is different. The staff at TCC is small, and our team here does so much! One of my favorite things about coming on board here is that there are so many different possibilities for growth. Having a small staff allows for us to imagine what future roles could look like, and you don't always walk into that as a director.
In terms of growth in the most immediate timeframe, I would love to expand our older adult and young adult services. Of course, we also have so much room to grow as a staff. We are doing a lot, and I would love to see more great individuals from the community join our team!
A big part of your job is oversight of the case management program. What is case management to you?
In my eyes, the goal of case management is to motivate, empower, and assist people. We want to link individuals to the community in which they live so that they can access available resources in order to survive and thrive. The primary purpose of TCC's case management program is to help LGBTQ individuals achieved lived equality.
Who are TCC's clients?
Our clients are anybody who need services- our clients find a safe space here that they do not find anywhere else. Our clients are poor and rich, sheltered or housing insecure. Our clients are in need, and that can mean so many things. We see a lot of clients that are just looking for affirming service providers, and we see a lot of clients who require assistance in a more hands-on way. Our client population is very diverse because the LGBTQ community exists among every age, race, religion, nationality, and socioeconomic status.
What does the LGBTQ community mean to you?
In a personal sense, working with the community has empowered me to better know who I am as an individual. It means the world to me. Personally, the community has empowered me to come out and live happily. Professionally, working in and for the LGBTQ community has been easy in the most difficult situations- it's like working with and for your family.
What are the ways any of our readers can support TCC's clients in a more direct way?
We need people dedicated to growing our funding sources. We need people dedicated to helping us with outreach. We need people who can help us continue to build meaningful partnerships with other agencies. Most importantly, people need to know that we're here. We are a staff of four full-time and two part-time. We need the volunteers to amplify our voices and our cause as often as they can. We know that outreach is our biggest challenge. We know LGBTQ homeless or housing insecure individuals exist in Connecticut, and we need to make sure we are reaching all of those individuals.
Want to give us some fun facts?
I have a little shih tzu named Oscar! I love to unwind with some Real Housewives, and I have a very strong connection to my Greek roots. I speak, read, and write it!