Sharmin’s Career at Volunteers of America

SharminPrince_1For 17 years, Sharmin Prince has demonstrated diligence and commitment to VOA-GNY’s policies and procedures, while showing real compassion for her colleagues and clients. Quoting “professionalism” as the Shared Value that is most relevant to her work, she recognizes the importance of conducting herself in a way that benefits others regardless of her own personal satisfaction. Her attention to detail and dedication to lifelong learning have enabled her to create an exemplary career with us.

On October 10, Sharmin transitioned from her role as Program Director at East New York SRO to Director of Program Services, which encompasses managing our Battle Buddy Bridge and Spiritual Resilience Training programs for veterans.

Here’s the story of Sharmin’s journey with us…

Born in Guyana, South America, Sharmin moved to the United States in 1999. After her service in the U.S. Army ended in 2001, she learned of VOA through a friend who referred her to an open position. Though that first opportunity didn’t pan out, it was serendipitous that two years later, Sharmin was invited to interview for another position with VOA. Arriving outside the Regent, she quickly realized that she’d been there before — it seemed like it was meant to be! After interviewing and completing pre-employment testing, Sharmin was thrilled to receive an offer for the position of Case Manager at the Regent Family Residence. “I had no social service experience,” Sharmin says, “but I am an avid reader and researcher, which helped guide me through my work.”

A Journey Through VOA-GNY
Since then, Sharmin’s hard work has led to several promotions at VOA. Early on, she transitioned from Case Manager to Case Management Supervisor, where she remained for two years. In 2004, Sharmin was ready for a change and made the move to East New York SRO to take on the Associate Program Director role. Soon after, she was promoted to Program Director, a position she held for nine years. “The Program Director role was the most rewarding and difficult position all at the same time,” she says. “It was a lot of trial and error, but I loved the excitement.” After almost a decade at East New York, Sharmin felt that she had mastered many of the intricacies of being a Program Director, and wanted a new challenge. When she heard about the Director of Program Services role, she knew it was not only the right opportunity, but the right time in her career to make another bold and ambitious move — and assist a different population of people.

New Challenges and Rewards
“There are a lot of veterans out there who do not have the wherewithal to navigate the systems and what’s available to them. Being in this position is extremely rewarding because I can be that person to help them,” she explains.

As head of the Battle Buddy Bridge program, Sharmin has spent the past few months overseeing the first peer specialist training program, through which veterans are certified and employed to assist other veterans and their families in securing the services they may need. She is currently working to match veterans with their “Battle Buddies” — a prerequisite to kicking off the peer counseling portion of the program. Though Battle Buddy Bridge was piloted in the VOA Los Angeles, Sharmin continues to make it her own by conducting thorough research and identifying best practices in managing such a unique program.

“I have the ability to be creative in this work, which excites me. I have already created a survey, referral sheet, and outcome plan. I’m looking forward to doing outreach at colleges and recruiting for the program as well,” she explains.

Of course, with new opportunities come new challenges. Sharmin anticipates the biggest challenge in her new role will be getting the programs up and running, explaining that pairing the veterans is a detailed and thorough process. However, she is confident that the rewards will outweigh the challenges. As a veteran herself, she is enthusiastic about analyzing the overall outcomes of the program and measuring the success. “I’m very excited to see the impact the program has,” she says.

Memories From East New York
Though she’s eager to dive into her new role, Sharmin remembers her roots fondly, and is grateful for every opportunity she has had to grow within VOA.

“I think every position that I held at VOA was a contributing factor to my progress and professional growth,” Sharmin explains. She also credits VOA’s tuition remission program with helping her shape her knowledge base and pursue a love of learning. Since starting with VOA, Sharmin has completed both her undergraduate and graduate degrees as a full-time student, and is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Psychology through the online program at Grand Canyon University. She is in the second phase of her dissertation on The Role of Self-Regulation Failure in Procrastination.

Thinking of East New York, Sharmin says she misses the staff and the relationships she built throughout the years there. She prides herself in her ability to bring people together and form a cohesive team. “They threw me a farewell party and invited staff that had left, and as I sat there, there were employees from different positions and different stages of my career. I saw staff from 10, 11, 12 years ago, who shared their memories with me,” Sharmin says. “The common theme among their stories was my ability to be strict and inform policies and procedures, yet also be compassionate and caring. I don’t think anyone in the beginning of my career would have said that, so it was really nice to hear.”

Having grown personally and professionally over the course of her career, Sharmin explains that the key to a successful tenure at VOA is to ensure that it is a match – that your personality, standards and values align with the organization’s.

A Good Luck Wish
We are thrilled to tell Sharmin’s story and wish her the best of luck in her new position managing our unique programs to support veterans. We know Sharmin will continue to be an avid champion for the most vulnerable, a valued member of the VOA-GNY family, and a tremendous role model to any new staff members starting their careers with us. Go, Sharmin!

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