It’s no secret Debby and Sissy Krauss are mother and daughter. They look alike, they share the same humor, and they both say “you know” as a filler between sentences.
They also have the same job. They both work as residential counselors at Sanderson Apartments, a permanent supportive housing facility run by Mental Health Center of Denver.
“Before all the tenants knew we were mother and daughter, they would come to me and say, ‘Sissy is so funny, she’s so nice,’” said Debby. “And I’d say, ‘Well, thank you, that’s my daughter you’re talking about.’”
Like mother, like daughter
Debby has been with Mental Health Center of Denver for about 19 years, working at various residential homes. She paved the way for her daughter Sissy.
“Mom’s been doing it forever,” said Sissy. “She loved the job and thought it would be something I would like.”
“Sissy would come and visit me at work,” said Debby. “She really works with humor. So she would come over and start teasing the people and they’d all love her. I told her she would love doing this. Because she loves being around people and helping people. That’s her thing.”
Sissy joined Mental Health Center of Denver as a residential counselor 10 years ago, learning from her mom. She credits Debby for her hard work ethic, as well as her ability to talk with residents.
“It’s tough at times, but she always keeps a cool head,” said Sissy. “She always compliments and wants the best for them. I don’t succeed all the time,” she laughed, “but I try to learn from that.”
Debby said her goal has always been to help residents feel better about themselves after talking with her.
“I always try to tell them something good about themselves. And Sissy does that now, too. So I know she’s picked that up from me,” Debby said with a chuckle.
Creating a consistent, family environment
There’s a unique advantage in having a mother-daughter pair as residential counselors –consistency. Debby and Sissy work opposite shifts at Sanderson, so most the time, either one of them is always there.
“I think it helps the residents to know that my mom and I are so similar,” said Sissy. “They don’t have two completely different people coming in with two different approaches. They know we’re pretty much going to do the same thing. So it’s very familiar to them and safe for them to have that stability.”
That stability is key. It’s often difficult for residents to transition from life on the streets to life in their own apartments. It’s a completely different environment for them. The consistency that Debby and Sissy offer helps ease the transition.
“It’s tough for them,” said Debby. “But they will talk to us when they won’t talk to anybody else. We really enjoy working with them, hearing their stories and helping them. They’re good people.”
The close relationship between Debby and Sissy is evident at Sanderson, and it’s encouraged a similar familial bond between them and the residents.
“Everyone calls her mom,” Sissy said about Debby. “Everyone. No matter how young or old they are, they all call her mom.”
Sanderson Apartments is a permanent supportive housing facility run by Mental Health Center of Denver. Permanent supportive housing combines housing and services for people who need support to live stably and independently within their communities. It is nationally recognizes as a proven solution to end homelessness. Learn more here.