Nanci Okerlund was fortunate to have grown up in a stable, loving family where every stray and outcast she brought home to care for was welcomed with open arms. (Even now in her 60s, she has 5 rescue cats and a dog to care for at home.) Her calling has always been service to people who most need help, so it is natural that she runs the Transitions Housing program at the Jamestown YWCA, where women and children have a safe place to live and access to several resources while they get back on their feet.
I asked her how she came to start working as an advocate for women and she admitted she started as a client in 1997 when she escaped her abusive husband. Like so many superheroes, she turned her own situation on its head and used her powers to help other women in similar situations. In her time at Transitions Housing, since 2001, she has facilitated housing for 650 women, and many, many children. Nanci stresses that, “It is not about me.” She makes it clear that it takes cooperation between many people, and connections with many resources and facilities to really help women in need. She will rattle off a long list of resources, facilities and people who are here to assist in order to drive home her point, too. Still, without people like Nanci, there would be no cooperation nor resources. Nanci continues to work tirelessly and is on call 24/7 for the women of Transitional Housing. #becauseofher #YWCAJamestown #Womenshistorymonth