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Nikki, Burlington Housing Authority

Written by J.C. Craig

They may not be related at all, but Nikki Ratliff considers her fellow community members a family. Since 2001, Ratliff has worked at the Burlington Housing Authority and notices an extreme sense of community in the work she does.

As the current Program Services Director, Ratliff works directly with Burlington Housing Authority residents. The residents range from young children to senior citizens, and they all turn to Burlington Housing Authority for its affordable residential options.

The housing authority is an organization based around housing, not food. Ratliff and her coworkers, however, still felt a change when the Burlington Loaves and Fishes closed in September.

Of the thousands of Burlington residents who relied on Loaves and Fishes, many were residents of the housing authority. "We've had to re-route our clients," says Ratliff, " we had to stay abreast to what the changes were."

In a contagiously positive tone, Ratliff describes how the change played out. "It was a seamless process," she says, "even though it may have seemed chaotic."

Ratliff took charge and organized a can drive for The Salvation Army. She and her co-workers showed their support for the community and made the event a success. The motive behind Ratliff's action, she says, was to defeat food insecurity in Burlington.

"My favorite part about working for Burlington Housing Authority," Ratliff says, "is being able to be more than just a landlord for our residents." Working at the housing authority since 2001, Ratliff has a clear passion for what she does. When she began, her job dealt with the Family Self-Sufficiency Program offered by the housing authority.

Norwick also talked about United Way's interaction with Alamance County after Loaves and Fishes, a large local food bank in the county, closed their doors.

According to the Burlington Housing Authority website, the program helps families become self-reliant over the course of five years. "Burlington Housing Authority is committed to partnering with its residents," explains Ratliff, "in their journey to success as they define it." In her first position, Ratliff enjoyed working this closely with the families and developing real relationships with the residents.

The North Carolina resident also has a strong appreciation for others in the community who work in the same field. "Agencies try very hard to work together," she says, "to give clients the best service because we share a lot of clients."

Active in many other community organizations, Ratliff always sees the people of Alamance County supporting each other. "I've found that people who work in the human services field in Alamance County," she says, "continue the mission of their respective organizations through their volunteerism."

Ratliff contributes her own time and resources in several different ways. Her resume extends far beyond Burlington Housing Authority. She is involved in and has had leadership roles in the Burlington Junior Woman's Club, the Exchange Club's Family Center in Alamance, United Way of Alamance County's Community Council and more.

Wherever she is volunteering her support, Ratliff does it for others. "That's a unique qualities about Alamance County," Ratliff says, "is that we operate as a family."