In 2022, COTS transitioned to a housing-focused model. However, the scope of care at COTS still extends beyond providing basic shelter. COTS’ mission is to assist those experiencing homelessness to find and keep housing, increase self-sufficiency, and improve well-being, something one of our Care Managers, Nichole, knows both sides of well.


Before becoming the beloved Care Manager that she is today, Nichole spent about 9 years homeless, in and out of shelters and street living. In 2014, Nichole was able to become substance-free with the help of COTS and moved out to live independently. During her time away, Nichole stumbled away from her sobriety but was resolved to change things when she returned to COTS again in 2019.


While staying with COTS, Nichole was given the opportunity to work temporarily with COTS’ Winter Shelter. While COTS has since found other ways to care for the community during the winter months, the Winter Shelter allowed both clients and non-clients of COTS to stay in a warm place for the night. While this role proved to be challenging at times, Nichole stuck with it.


Her tenacity and compassion caught the eye of Robin Phoenix, COTS’ current Program Director, who soon offered her a job, with the condition that Nichole would have independent stable housing, as COTS full-time staff members cannot be clients concurrently. Due to Nichole’s drive and temporary employment with COTS for the Winter Shelter, she was able to save enough money to move into a sober living environment. Once Nichole was securely housed, she became a key component in the kitchen staff at the Mary Isaak Center, assisting our amazing Chef Janin.


After about a year in the kitchen, Nichole moved to be a Site Coordinator for COTS. This is the person you typically see at the front desk when you enter the shelter. Continuing to grow in her career, Nichole came into the role of COTS’ Care Manager, which she still holds today. She has been a wonderful Care Manager for COTS for about two years and is still passionate about helping clients. As she states, “I am really looking forward to staying with COTS for as long as possible. I’m very excited about upcoming programs, seeing the changes from the strategic plan, and I rejoice every time some of our clients get housed”.


Nichole continues to lead with compassion, understanding that our clients, like many people, may struggle with mental health or substance abuse, but they do not have the luxury of going through their struggles in a safe and private home. She understands that many people do not ask for help for fear that no one will understand and rejoices when she gets to work with people willing to make changes and ask for the help they need. Nichole wants everyone to know, “You are human. We do understand and we’re going to help you get to where you want to be.” She only hopes that afterward, her clients will continue to make good decisions for themselves.


Thank you, Nichole, for being a part of the COTS crew for four years and counting. We appreciate all that you do!