August / Cassie
Name: Cassie Carter
Lives in: Lexington, KY
Alma mater: University of Louisville
Studied: Social Work
Graduated: May 2017
Takes her coffee: Strong with a flavored creamer (like caramel, peppermint mocha, or hazelnut)
Last book read: The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck
Works at: The Homeless and Housing Coalition of Kentucky as the Housing Program Manager
Responsible for: At work, supervising the Housing Services Team and managing the Permanent Supportive Housing Programs. At home, being a wife and taking care of her and husband Quentin's pugs and kitties.
SIB: Homelessness is a complex issue that most people don’t understand. What misconceptions can you correct for us?
CC: The only cure for homelessness is a home. The philosophy for ending homelessness has changed a lot over the past decade. It has gone from a Housing Ready approach to a Housing First approach, which is what we adhere to at HHCK. Housing Ready meant that people experiencing homelessness must meet criteria such as being sober for X amount of time, completing a substance use treatment program, going to therapy, etc. prior to being given housing assistance.
Housing First, on the other hand, means providing housing assistance and meeting that basic need of safety without someone having to meet requirements first. It’s WAY more effective in ending homelessness. Think about it - most people experiencing homelessness use drugs and alcohol as a way to cope with the harsh conditions they are facing and to get through those extremely cold, difficult nights. How can we expect them to stop using before having a home if that’s the only thing that gets them from day to day? Once they are housed, they can then be connected with case management and supportive services that they need.
SIB: What can people do to aid those struggling with homelessness?
CC: Learn about the homeless service providers in your community, get flyers from them, and give people experiencing homelessness information about how to get help. That’s more beneficial than giving them food or money. And advocate for more affordable housing!
SIB: Most people are aware of the homeless’ needs in winter (hot drinks, socks, blankets, etc), but what do they need in the summer months?
CC: Honestly the summer months can be just a deadly as the winter months with how hot it gets! Staying hydrated is very important, so it’s good to be able to offer them water or Gatorade. Other summer needs include hats, sunscreen, and assistance with transportation to avoid long walks in the heat. We always keep bus tickets at HHCK to be able to give out.
SIB: Speaking of housing, Housewire.com claims that buying a house is the most stressful event in modern life! How did you cope with the chaos of becoming a homeowner? How have you made your new house feel like your home?
CC: OMG I believe it! For me, it was pretty stressful because a lot of houses in Lexington sell within what seems like five minutes of being listed for sale. Not kidding, I emailed our realtor and scheduled to view a home that had just been listed and in a few minutes she responded and said the owners already accepted an offer from someone who didn’t even go look at the house!
I also had set my expectations too high on what I thought we could afford, and then had to decrease our range by a lot after talking to some mortgage lenders and getting estimates. In the end, though, it all worked out, and we found the perfect little house for us. It’s all on one floor, has an open floor plan, an adorable white kitchen with huge windows, and a very private fenced in backyard! Having the backyard was #1 since we have dogs and it gets annoying walking them all the time. My parents have been a huge help with getting everything fixed up!
I’ve made my house feel like home by having lots of pictures! I have tons of pictures and canvases of Quentin and I and our family and friends all over the house. I also have our vows hung up above our fireplace. Something else that made it feel like home was when Quentin's parents and one of his siblings came to visit us for a week and stayed in our guest bedroom. They live in Boston, so we don't get to see them often. It was nice that our families were able to spend some time together.
SIB: Couples consistently list finances in the top five reasons for fights. How do you and Quentin handle big financial decisions with grace?
CC: Quentin and I are both pretty relaxed when it comes to financial decisions. Neither of us are big spenders, and we don’t stress much over money. It’s a blessing! We have had to spend a ton of money lately though, on our new house and unexpectedly on a new car, because Quentin’s car died right after we bought our house.
We are both lucky to have good jobs. We don’t have to worry about having a safe place to live and good food to eat, and with working with people experiencing homelessness I’ve learned not to take those basic needs for granted.
SIB: Your move just extended your commute! How do you entertain yourself during the longer drive?
CC: Goodness, my commute feels like eternity some days, and more so on my drive home than my drive to work. It usually takes me fifty minutes each way, so it’s close to two hours each day. I’ve tried to make it productive and enjoyable by listening to podcasts, news, or music. Sometimes I will call family or friends on my way home to catch up.
SIB: Which podcasts have your attention these days?
The Real Life Podcast is a podcast by Jefferson and Alyssa Bethke, a married couple living in Maui. I’ve been following Jefferson Bethke since early in college, when he mostly did spoken word videos, but since then he has written several books that I’ve read. Both he and Alyssa are very wise and I learn a lot from their teachings. Their podcast is all about having an intentional and Christ-following marriage and family.
Bridgetown is a church in Portland, Oregon. The pastor, John Mark Comer, has written several books as well. I learned about him and Bridgetown through another podcast. Since then I have read three of his books: Garden City, My Name Is Hope, and God Has A Name. All are very insightful and I would recommend them to anyone! I enjoy listening to the Bridgetown sermons during my commutes to work.
SIB: Happy one year anniversary! What has the past year taught you about marriage - and how has it surprised you?
CC: Marriage is honestly really fun! My husband Quentin is the best! He’s really loving, funny, and life with him is amazing. That’s probably because we enjoy so many of the same things, so it’s really easy to find things to do together.
The past year has taught me that being honest and having good communication skills in marriage is very important! Quentin is great at communicating and if we have a disagreement or need to have a conversation, he likes to talk through things right away. I, on the other hand, like to avoid it at all costs because I hate confrontation, and I can easily assume he’s upset with me when he’s not - even though we really don’t fight because we are both very easygoing.
Quentin and I didn’t live together before marriage, so we learned so much about each other this past year. It’s just funny getting used to each other's little quirks, habits, and differences - like what time we each like to go to bed, eat dinner, or work out. We've both had to make adjustments in these areas. They are small changes, but it’s been fun figuring out how to adjust our individual lifestyles to meet each other’s needs. Quentin and I are also both blessed to have great examples of loving marriages from our parents.
^ photos by photo lulu photography <3
SIB: Warm weather can sometimes trigger body insecurities! How do you choose to celebrate your body in summer’s more revealing attire?
CC: I try to choose not to be insecure about it, and not to put too much stress on myself, but that’s not something I can always control. I try not to compare myself to what I see on social media. I love summer and wear loose summer dresses to work most days. Dressing in summer is way easier and comfier. I dress pretty modestly and wear things that I love on me, and don’t worry about what people think. Plus, I'm pretty chill when it comes to what I wear. Outside of work, you'll typically find me in shorts and a T-shirt or sweatpants. I steal all of Quentin's comfy shirts and sweatpants.
SIB: Exercise is great, but you can have too much of a good thing! What caused you to reach exercise burnout?
CC: I think years of needing to be in amazing shape for soccer and having to do intense workouts every day. I’ve also gone through a lot of big changes in life over the past couple years. I graduated college, got a job, moved to Lexington, got married, bought a house, bought a car, and work full time as a social worker. Those are all really great things but also a lot of changes, and I get tired more easily than I used to! Exercise is still something I’m working on finding balance with. I always feel like if I’m doing it, I need to push myself as hard as I can, and I’ve had to realize that it’s okay to take some days off.
SIB: What’s your secret for those glorious curls??
CC: Wow thank you! I think I have tried about every product in the world! If I want my hair to hold well I use L.A. Looks Gel, which is like $2. I've used it since birth. Or if I want my curls to be soft and shiny, I will use an oil like Argan or Moroccan oil. I don’t use any heat at all on my hair (and rarely use a hair dryer), because it dries it out. I hardly use shampoo because it damages my hair too and causes more frizz. I mostly use conditioner a couple times a week and I will shampoo once a month at most.
SIB: You’ve decided to prioritize relaxing to counteract perfectionism. What are your favorite ways to slow down and treat yourself?
CC: It’s been helpful to focus on one thing at a time rather than a million things I want to do! I’ve had to learn to ask for help when I need it. If I could treat myself in any way regardless of money, I would probably get weekly professional massages! But Quentin is pretty great at them and ready to give me one anytime. My favorite ways to slow down are to relax outside and read a book or watch a show and have a glass of red wine.
SIB: Our society emphasizes independence, but independence alone can stifle intimacy and relationship! How can one exhibit responsibility and competence without becoming inflexible and withdrawn?
CC: I think it all has to do with balance, staying humble, and realizing it’s good to ask for help when it’s needed. Everyone has weaknesses and everyone has strengths. We have to be honest with ourselves about what those are and not feel ashamed to admit them to others. It’s how we deepen our relationships and learn from each other.
SIB: What are you proud of yourself for?
CC: Most recently, I’m proud of myself and Quentin for buying our first home! I’m proud of myself for being hardworking, learning from mistakes, being a good listener, and taking care of myself so that I can keep a positive attitude when helping others.
SIB: How does your faith impact the way you see yourself?
CC: My faith is where my self-worth comes from. It’s allowed me to be able to learn from mistakes and not be hard on myself. I feel that the more I grow in my faith, the more confident I become in my capabilities. It also helps me not to compare myself to others and not to feel like I need to follow the same timeline as everyone else.
SIB: What does balance mean to you?
CC: When I think of balance I think about knowing how to say no and not overwhelming myself. Creating boundaries between work and home life is also a way I try to stay balanced. I love my job, but it can be pretty stressful at times. Burnout is huge in the social work field so I know I need to be careful and take care of myself. I keep my evenings free during the work week as much as possible so I can relax and not feel burnt out by the middle of the week.