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Celebrating 10 Years with Exodus: Chelsea Davey

Meet Chelsea Davey, Director of Extended Services. Chelsea oversees our Preferred Community, Refugee Health Promotion, Women’s, Mental Wellness Programs and more! To celebrate Chelsea’s 10-year anniversary working at Exodus, we asked her a few questions about herself. Chelsea has helped Exodus grow in her time with us, and we are so grateful for her dedication!

1. Tell us a little about yourself. 

Hello! I am the Director of Extended Services at Exodus and am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. I am from a small town in Central Illinois but have lived in Indy for about 13 years. I was a foster parent for older youth for several years, so explaining my family can be a bit complicated. I live with my partner and three young adults I helped raised, one of which I adopted. I have another adopted daughter who lives nearby with my four beautiful “littles” which are my legal grandchildren. The term grandma is a bit strange when you start being one at 30 (although I know I certainly am not the first). I adore animals, several of which also share my home (only dogs and a cat at this point). I love to garden and hike; anytime I can spend outside in nature is time well spent. I love to travel and see new places. I have always loved music but have a growing love for live music. I enjoy stories and learning, whether from a friend, family member, formal class, or listening/reading a book it doesn’t really matter to me. I tend to have significantly more interests than I have time!

2. What languages do you speak? 

English. I have studied and tried to learn other languages! 

3. How did you hear about Exodus and what made you want to work here? 

I was volunteering with another organization and Exodus hosted a meeting at our former office. I had always wanted to work with diverse cultures and had hoped to live abroad. When I learned about refugee resettlement it took my desire to work with people from all over the world and brought it to my front door. I still love to travel but knowing that such diversity exists in an area I have already learned to navigate and could share my knowledge with felt like a great fit! I had no idea at the time how much of an impact Exodus would have on my life and I am thankful I was given the opportunity.

4. What would you say are your greatest accomplishments over the years? 

I have grown a lot as a therapist, social worker, and person during my years at Exodus. It is difficult to think about personal accomplishments since our work is so collaborative. I have enjoyed building programs and collaborating with community partners and funders on innovative ideas to better serve clients. I am most grateful and humbled when I am a part of the team that helps someone who is really struggling find stability and then working towards healing past or recent traumas. When a client tells me they are doing better, or offers thanks for being in a safe space, those are certainly accomplishments I hope to remember. 
Thanks to careful planning and generous funders I have had a lot of opportunities to learn at Exodus. Traveling to Italy for a Global Mental Health training really changed my perspective on mindfulness and the importance of bringing our bodies and movement into therapy. More recently learning about EMDR has been really impactful in understanding how other forms of treatment can help our brains heal. I have so much more to learn, but the transformation of how I view the world and what it takes to heal feels like an accomplishment.

5. What are some of your fondest Exodus memories over the past 10 years? 

Most of the memories popping into my head seem to be centered around food. Memories of sitting in clients’ homes, usually when we were supposed to be working on something timely, but instead they ended up talking me through each step of a recipe for the sweets or meal they had shared with me so I could recreate it at home. Learning about culture through food has become a staple in my clinical work, most frequently with our Muslim community, whose hospitality knows no bounds.  Prior to the pandemic our Women’s Program hosted dinners at Dous Kitchen. Our clients would teach staff and volunteers about dishes from their home country. They were long but wonderful evenings. Our staff pitch-in’s are also notoriously fabulous. Each person or holiday we celebrate together through food is always a memory in the making. I would be without my favorite teas and sweets had I not worked at Exodus! 
It is funny when you reflect on memories how difficult it is to pinpoint things that happen in your regular visits or office hours. Most of what I remember are the extra things that are not always part of the job descriptions. I fondly remember walking with Karen Elders and others in parks for special programming. I remember the staff and client weddings where everyone got to relax a bit and learn to be together in different ways. I also remember laughing, a lot, at the ridiculousness of what happens when we try to do team building activities. I hold fondly that when things have changed in my personal life, in ways both good and bad, that staff and clients alike have offered encouragement, support, and unending love.

6. Describe what Exodus means to you. 

Exodus means a lot of different things to me. It allows me to support my family and passions whilst still doing work that I find extremely meaningful. It’s welcomed people prior to my tenure and during my employment that have literally become my family. It has allowed space for developing friendships I will carry with me forever. It also means that despite what the world has said about groups of people, that there can be unassuming places anywhere that will do their best to treat people with dignity and offer new chances at life, which is a great thing to know.