Office manager Laurianne: Finding God at Broadway

Laurianne Stamm is the office manager at Broadway. She is the first person many people see when they walk in the east door off the parking lot and come up the steps to the office. She sees everyone from volunteers coming to work on something, to people dropping off groceries, to people in need of clothes, or food, or a bus pass or a doctor, or just someone to listen to.


And while many of them are grateful for how Laurianne helps them, there are also those who are not so nice.  Laurianne recalled one recent incident where a lady blamed her for a phone she had ordered that had not arrived yet.

Although, Laurianne knew nothing about the phone or who ordered it, the woman was adamant that she wasn’t going to leave until Laurianne produced the phone that she must evidently be hiding. Eventually Laurianne had to call our hospitality coordinator, Kenny Jones, to escort the woman off the premises.


Such are the situations the office manager at Broadway can run into, but Laurianne still counts her blessings that she is working at Broadway because “I love people in general, and Broadway has shown me that God does exist.”


There have been times in her life when that was not always so evident to her. Some years back with a son headed off for a tour of duty in Iraq and a daughter going to college, she lost a good job with the City of Indianapolis permit department five weeks before being vested in the city’s retirement fund.


“My life imploded at that point,” she said. Psychologically she went into a tailspin and ended up moving to Texas to stay with a friend and then suffered a heart attack. After recovering, she moved back to Indiana but then fell sick again. Where was her life going, she wondered. The disability office told her to go live with her son in Georgia, which was not where she wanted to be.


But a feeling for working with people led her to take a short course in being a social service designee, which certified her for providing assistance to people who were moving into nursing homes.  With this taste of social work, she decided to get an associates degree in Human Services from South Bend’s Ivy Tech campus.


It was then that her connection with Broadway began as she served an internship with our staff and found herself working with people who were in the kind of tough situations she could not have imagined, tougher situations than she had been in. She was especially touched by the tremendous stress that accompanies homelessness. “These are people who have 110 things to think about just trying to close their eyes and get a place to rest. People try to hurt them. People try to beat them up.”


“I try very hard to put myself in their shoes before I let any attitude of mine come out. It’s very hard to see the mental illness breakdown many of them have.”


After finishing her internship she continued to volunteer at Broadway while she wrapped up her associates degree. “I just fell in love with you guys and I stayed,” she said. Then, when the office manager position came open in January, she applied and was quickly hired.


However, she was not finished with her illnesses. In the spring she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and had a severe asthma attack (more the latter than the former, she believes). While she has recovered somewhat, her legs and her overall strength have been slow to come back, making stairs difficult but also leaving her thankful for the part-time schedule she has at Broadway, even though some busy weeks push her 24-hours-per-week schedule to over 30 hours.


Now, at the age of 55, Laurianne feels that she has been on a winding spiritual journey of sorts. “I have struggled with my spirituality on and off through my life,” she said. Although raised in a church, “I just didn’t like the whole organized religion thing.”


“But then I saw what you guys do to help people … I realized there was a place I could be where I could still matter, and I could help somebody somewhere.” And even with what she calls some of the “ugly” days when the summer heat makes people cranky and unhelpful, there’s a bounty of giving that still flows through the place like a fresh breeze. “Broadway has shown me that there is a higher power, she says, and starts to chuckle. “And yes, he does move in some VERY mysterious ways,” she laughs, before reiterating for clarity:  “But he does move.”