For 3 years, Reuben Kessler has been making his own unique impact at Swords to Plowshares. As a program coordinator for SSVF, his ability to genuinely connect with people, whether it be veteran clients, social workers, or landlords, has allowed him to follow his passion to support the community he grew up in. Born and raised in San Francisco, Reuben's interest in supportive services and housing stemmed from experiences with his own family's struggles. As a gay man, Reuben is also inspired to dismantle barriers that have restricted LGBTQ+ veterans from accessing the resources they deserve.
Reuben started out at Swords as an administrative assistant at the San Francisco Service Center with the aim to break into the social work field. Since then, he has seen our work to support unhoused veterans at many angles. He moved on from his first position to the outreach team, where he became veterans' first access point to receiving care. Reuben deepened this work by becoming a case manager, where he provided regular support to veterans navigating their journey accessing healthcare, counseling, housing assistance, and community. Now in his current role as SSVF program coordinator, Reuben is closer to achieving his goals to become a social worker. On top of his full-time job, he is in the process of obtaining his Masters in Social Work.
With no significant relationship to the military, Reuben has learned everything he knows about veterans and their diverse lived experiences through supporting them at Swords. He particularly loves to interact with veterans who identify with the LGBTQ+ community. "There are actually a lot of veterans who are LGBTQ. I like improving their relationships with the services they deserve, because often they are people who need that support more than ever." Reuben's role includes becoming a friendly face to veterans who may be intimidated by the VA due to their experiences in the military.
Beyond helping veterans get housed, Reuben co-facilitates the weekly LGBTQ+ veterans support group at the Veterans Community Center. Every Friday at 2pm, Reuben and VCC staff hold space for LGBTQ+ veterans to connect with each other and talk about their experiences among others who understand them. If you are a veteran interested in attending, email email@example.com for more info. "For me, the relationships are the best part of the job," Reuben answers when asked about why he likes to work for Swords. "We are a diverse community, and seeing how collaborations come together is exciting."