When you consider that Alyssa Sacco only started at Urban Pathways six months ago, the amount of work that she’s accomplished since then is pretty impressive. When you consider that those six months were directly in the middle of a global pandemic, it’s downright amazing.

Alyssa, an upstate New York native with a Master’s degree in Forensic Psychology, is a Case Manager at the 162nd Street Apartments in the Bronx. Clients in that residence live with a great degree of independence: they receive case-management services and general support from Urban Pathways but hold their own leases and make their own personal decisions.

The ultimate goal, of course, is for these clients to live entirely on their own — so Alyssa works with residents to formulate goals that help them master daily living and which are necessary for full independence. Typical goals include consistently paying rent, managing finances, keeping medical appointments, and addressing mental health issues.

Along the way, Alyssa serves as cheerleader, record-keeper, and confidante for her clients. “I document every bit of progress and perform psychosocial assessments to see how our clients are doing,” she says. “I’m also here to listen when clients need to vent about their frustrations,”—a role in which Alyssa’s psychology background often comes in handy.

Bettering client lives has become increasingly challenging mandate over the past few months, as residents grow more and more weary of COVID-19. “I think that’s the hardest part of the pandemic for clients,” says Alyssa. “They miss being able to take a jaunt around the city on a whim. They miss in-person programs and having a full staff on-site all week.”

To buoy client spirits, Alyssa—a New York State certified Peer Specialist—has exhibited her creative side. She’s organized virtual and socially- distant game nights, movie showings, bingo events, and holiday parties. All this is in addition to the skill-building sessions Alyssa facilitates on stress management, smoking cessation, and computer proficiency.

Lately, Alyssa has been working to secure vaccine access for her clients, a uniquely gratifying task. But Alyssa says her favorite part of her job is supporting her clients on a daily basis. “I’ve had clients who didn’t pay their rent for months until I helped them figure out how,” she says. “I really feel like I’m improving lives.”

For Alyssa and her colleagues, the ultimate goal remains serving clients as best they can. And armed with masks and an abundance of hand sanitizer, they’re relentlessly doing just that.