Driving all of Parmanand Hemlall’s work is his personal motto: “Help those who cannot help themselves.”

That has been the grounds for his social work education—he holds a master’s degree in the field and is pursuing a PhD—and his impressive work at Urban Pathways speaks for itself.

Until last month, Parmanand was an employment specialist working in Manhattan and the Bronx to help clients find vocational training and employment. That helped the 26-year-old become an expert at crafting resumes, prepping clients for interviews, and securing reduced prices for training.

“I was really moved by clients who entered the program so down and then gained and maintained employment,” says Parmanand. “They wowed themselves, too.”

In the early days of the virus, while still in his previous role as an employment specialist, Parmanand proved an invaluable resource for some clients. The city was hiring widely for good pay and had eliminated barriers that usually prevent former convicts from securing city jobs. With Parmanand’s help, many clients received great positions.

Now a case manager at Urban Pathways’ Hallet’s Cove supportive-housing residence in Queens, Parmanand is charged with a likewise meaningful mission: guiding clients to independent living. To that end, Parmanand works with clients at the 50-unit facility to map out transition plans, setting goals in such diverse areas as health management, daily living skills, hygiene, and mental health. Needs are identified, goalposts are set, and the march toward progress begins. Also, on Parmanand’s mind: helping clients procure the identification needed for independent housing.

Client engagement dipped with coronavirus since many residents were reluctant to open up to staff over the phone. That didn’t stop Parmanand, who had several older clients on his daily call list. “It was really challenging for them not to be able to leave the building at all,” says Parmanand, referring to when the virus ran roughshod through New York. “Spending time with them each day on the phone.”

“Things are better now,” says Parmanand, “to the point that clients feel less compelled to mask up. We remind them that it’s for their benefit—particularly those with preexisting conditions.” Urban Pathways’ leadership, he notes, has been great at ensuring that New York State policies are clear to all.

Lastly, Parmanand mentioned that one of our clients’ greatest needs are communication devices. “Not all clients have phones or tablets,” says Parmanand. “Coronavirus made it clear how crucial those devices can be.”

By Urban Pathways on September 02, 2020