Connecting with Faith, Janelle Leppa

This month Faith In Daily Life we spoke with Peace member Janelle Leppa about how she lives her vocation. Janelle, along with her husband, Peter, and their daughters, Sylvi and Sonja, joined Peace three years ago. She is currently on our Church Council as well as on our VISION Team.

Since Janelle was a child, she has known that she wanted to help people. Her first job after college was at Simpson Housing Services, a nonprofit organization that provides assistance to people experiencing homelessness. At her new job she often felt overwhelmed and inadequate. At the same time, she felt confident that God had led her to the right place. Nineteen years later, she is now the Family Housing Programs Director at Simpson. Janelle continues to believe that she is living out her vocation at work. She says, “I look back and see those early feelings of inadequacy as a gift. They taught me to seek teachers everywhere in my work, and to see that my most powerful teachers would be the families that I sought to help.” There are many joys as well as challenges at her job, but she says that the joys consistently outshine the challenges. She loves seeing the way that relationships transform people. “We truly do better when we put our hearts and minds together. Authentic compassion and empathy have the power to heal,” Janelle says. She adds that most of the challenges related to homelessness are around resources such as the lack of affordable housing, income and education disparities, and stressed support systems.

When asked what thriving looks like to her, she says that a person’s body, mind and spirit need to be positioned to seek out and take advantage of opportunities that come one’s way. She tries to help clients to balance daily stress with an overall sense of connectedness, as well having basic needs met and having a sense of purpose. Faith connects with her vocation, although her employer is not a faith-based organization. Faith is what provides her “personal fuel” each day, she says. “In both my highest and my lowest moments, I feel God’s presence. My faith inspires me to be more persistent and more
compassionate in my work.” 

Janelle mentions that the community at Peace has been a blessing to her and to her family, and says that weekly worship and fellowship recharge her for the week. “During this time where we are unable to physically worship together due to COVID-19, I’m so thankful that we have found ways to stay connected!” Thank you, Janelle, for all you do at our church and in your work with homeless families.