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Alumni Success

Heart for Helping

Tosheria Brown

Every day, NC State alumna Tosheria Brown enters Oak City Cares with a singular goal: to help people at risk of or experiencing homelessness.

The Master of Social Work, MSW, graduate has helped a great many folks in her role as director of programs and services for the past four years at the nonprofit center near downtown Raleigh. The center partners with Wake County, the city of Raleigh and multiple other nonprofits to provide onsite help to those at risk of or experiencing homelessness and connect them with the medical assistance, behavioral health care, outreach, veteran and employment services they need.

At Oak City Cares, Brown is known for her compassion, open-mindedness and ability to see the humanity in each person. During a typical workday, she relies on those traits to oversee the center’s programs and services, manage the staff, and secure new partner agencies to reduce barriers to stability and housing.

In directing the daily flow of the center’s partners, volunteers, staff and patrons — whom she calls guests or friends — Brown is often described as social work’s equivalent of an air traffic controller. That’s a lot of directing since the unhoused population in Raleigh has risen in the past year to the point of becoming a critical issue similar to the national trend, she explains.

Brown handles with aplomb the challenges that come with her job. She has 15 years of experience working with for-profit organizations, where she honed her skills in customer service, conflict resolution and human resources. She switched to the nonprofit sector nearly a decade ago because of her heart for helping people. 

Before her current role, Brown served as the program coordinator for the Oak City Outreach Center in downtown Raleigh, which operated a weekend meals program. In 2019, the meals program was incorporated into Oak City Cares, which opened that same year. Brown helped raise community support for the center.

It seems that Brown has always had a desire to help those in underserved and diverse populations, especially those experiencing homelessness. Part of that desire is personal.

“I have multiple family members and friends who have encountered homelessness,” Brown says. “I have tried to connect many of them to the homeless service resources in their area.”

Even when she worked in the for-profit field, Brown helped others by volunteering through her church and other groups during her free time.   

However, working at Oak City Outreach Center is what she says inspired her in 2017 to pursue her master’s degree in social work. Seventeen years earlier, she earned a bachelor’s degree in business, with a concentration in human resources, from NC State.

Brown enjoys her work because she connects with people — a trait she sharpened while obtaining her MSW. She says the humanities and social sciences taught her, among other things, to understand human behavior and life cycles, engage with individuals in a therapeutic way, and advocate for diversity, inclusion and equity.  

“All the skills I learned during my MSW are what have become the foundation of my work at Oak City Cares, and I use them daily,” she explains.

Some of the things Brown says she values about her time at NC State are collaborating with fellow students in the MSW program and getting involved as an undergrad with Alpha Kappa Psi, a co-ed professional business fraternity.

Overall, however, she says she treasured the diversity at NC State. She also welcomed the opportunities to be involved in various on-campus organizations and to excel academically with faculty support.

To anyone considering entering or advancing in the profession, here’s Brown’s advice: “There are so many opportunities for social work professionals in almost every field. The biggest challenge is understanding what you want to do and what population you want to serve.”

For Brown, who says she is still growing in her current role, that means leaving Oak City Cares every day having met her goal of serving “guests” at risk of or experiencing homelessness.

This post was originally published in College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

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