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By Kim Nelson, National Outreach Coordinator

In mid-April, we got to welcome our new Admissions Director, Michelle Nirde, MSW to our team. I had the pleasure of visiting with her over a video call one afternoon and we got to know each other. 

Michelle hails from the suburbs of Chicago and she moved to the Asheville area 5 years ago. When asked why she decided to move away from her home state, Michelle had this to share, “Early one morning, maybe it was 6 am, I was heading out to school and it was one of those -30* days and pitch-black; suddenly, I realized, I don’t have to live like this!”

Coming from Detroit, I shared a similar experience and we both commiserated and joked about not inches of snow, but feet! Michelle said about choosing to move, ” I dreamed of experiencing something new.”

Even though she dearly misses White Sox games and the  Art Institute of Chicago, Michelle loves our Western North Carolina landscape and has taken up day hiking and scenic drives. She especially loves discovering little small towns in our region and names Boone, Brevard, Sylva, and Black Mountain as some of her favorite spots to explore.

Although typically a prepared hiker with appropriate footwear, nothing could have prepared her for a misstep in her own driveway one day. Michelle shared that she took her dog outside for just a moment, in her flip flops, and she didn’t see what ended up being a small copperhead snake on the pavement. Ouch! Yes, she got a bit. Luckily the hospital felt antivenom was not needed, and luckily, they were right. She will be stepping more lightly when outside from now on. 

Michelle’s professional history began while volunteering at the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago. She quickly became employed there and soon aspired to do more. Michelle attended the University of Illinois at Chicago, Jane Addams College of Social Work. Did you know that Jane Addams is known as the founder of social work in America? Illinois even celebrates her with her own day, December 10th. You can read more about Jane Addams here if you like.

Just as Michelle earned her Masters of Social Work degree, she made that leap to North Carolina. It helped that her parents live in the area, and her younger sister is based in Charlotte. Michelle jumped onto an ACT team for almost three years and then moved to October Road for another two. She had heard from a colleague about this amazing program called “CooperRiis” early in her work and was instantly intrigued. Michelle’s dream of working here now realized, she shares much appreciation for the staff, especially after only being here a short couple of weeks.

“Everyone is so truly happy to be here. I think it is quite healing for the staff to be here, not just the residents. I find everyone to be true and authentic.”

Thanks, Michelle! We all look forward to getting to know you even better and working with you. Welcome to our Community!
 

Madeline is a 3 year old golden retriever mix. She is working with her therapist momma on her anxiety and social skills in the hopes that maybe someday she can visit CooperRiis!

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