WordPress Powers Services for the Homeless

This edition of our WordPress Empowerment Series features Brenna Lakeson, program assistant at Central OAC. You’ll hear how their website drives external support through event marketing and helps them communicate with the people they serve.

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Tell us a bit about your organization.

We open doors to overcome and prevent homelessness in three main ways.

First, we offer supportive services like assistance obtaining identification and birth certificates, medical referrals, clothing and food referrals, and reading glasses. Second, our Main Frame Job Readiness program helps guests establish a resume, polish their interview skills, and get the training they need to get back out into the workforce. Lastly, we advocate in public policy to change the systems of oppression that cause homelessness.

What’s your role inside of your organization?

I am the program assistant at Central OAC, and I do a little bit of everything. In the morning, when we’re open for supportive services, I work one on one with our guests to meet their needs. I also do the majority of our communications, such as our social media, blog, and website. I have some administrative responsibilities as well, such as writing checks for out of state birth certificates and keep track of our donor database.

I am currently working to expand our online presence and streamline our communications by developing a style guide. I also hope to be able to use our website and social media to better tell the stories of the guests that we serve.

How does your organization use WordPress?

We use WordPress for our website and blog. The website was created before I came on board, but the person who created the website held my same position. She didn’t know much about web design or website building, and she found the WordPress tools very easy to use. She was able to teach me how to use it easily as well.

How has your organization’s use of WordPress changed over time?

This is the only role WordPress has every played for us—hosting our current website—but it’s much better than what we were using before. We’ve only been using it for about two or three years, so not much has changed in terms of how we use WordPress, but our switch to WordPress involved a lot of positive change for us.

It’s crucial for a nonprofit like us to have a clean, well-designed web presence both in order to clearly communicate what we do and to attract donors. WordPress has allowed us to do that in a much easier and aesthetically pleasing way.

When did you personally start using WordPress, and what was that experience?

I started using WordPress for personal use in college. I created a blog when I studied abroad in order to keep my family and friends in the US updated on my travel. I had never blogged before but found it easy to set up. I also liked that my friends and family could comment on my posts so I knew that they were reading them! It was a fun and easy way to keep up with all my adventures.

How has your knowledge of and confidence with WordPress changed since you started?

I had no idea how to manage a website when I started this job. However, WordPress was really user-friendly and allowed me to jump right in without too much confusion. There were still a few things I needed help with along the way, and Evermore support is always there for me when I have questions.

I think the WordPress website is a great choice for a small nonprofit like ours because it’s easy to use, so we don’t have to hire a tech person to do it for us, but it also looks great, so people will take our mission seriously when they encounter us online.

How has your current WordPress-based website benefitted your organization?

Our website is one of the main ways that donors and supporters find out about our fundraisers. These events are crucial for our budget, and without a proper website, we wouldn’t have nearly the turnout that we do. It also helps us communicate our services to the people we serve, with information available about all of our programs as well as our partner agencies.

What has helped you the most in your journey of using WordPress?

Evermore support! Overall, I feel comfortable using WordPress without any problems, but it’s so nice to know that if we have a hiccup, there’s someone I can email and get a quick answer.

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