SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — We often won’t know what has brought a person to the point where they seek the resources available for the most vulnerable members of the community. But from the perspective of today, exactly why he or she initially experienced homelessness may not be as important as how they’re doing now and where they’re headed.

Heidi Pliska’s interests could just as easily be yours, and maybe they are.

“I like to do family history in my free time, and I like to listen to music,” Pliska said.

Right now, she is a guest at the Bishop Dudley Hospitality House which offers shelter in central Sioux Falls. But this is temporary; she’s planning on moving into an apartment. She also knows what kind of job she hopes to have.

“I want to be able to help people,” Pliska said. “I’m thinking about helping people with their mental health and drug and alcohol addiction.”

She shares that she herself experiences anxiety and PTSD. Additionally, a sense that almost everyone can take for granted is one of her challenges: she’s hard of hearing.

“If you’re around me often, I would get used to your speech, you know what I mean,” Pliska said. “Like if you’re behind me, I would get used to it, like if I’m around you a lot. But if it’s just one time thing, I have to read your lips.”

“Heidi’s not long for the Bishop Dudley House,” said Madeline Shields, the shelter’s executive director. “She has goals, she has aspirations. This is a transition. She’s in a quick, short journey of homelessness, and she is working very hard to get back to self-sufficiency.”

Shields says Pliska is a role model at the shelter.

“We’re really proud of Heidi,” Shields said.

Lisa Ormberg is Pliska’s case worker. Their work together has been about time spent here.

“Adjusting to life at the shelter, like it’s understanding rules, becoming more self-sufficient,” Ormberg said.

Shields says around 130 guests are spending the night at the shelter. But guests can receive much more than a place to rest.

“We connect them with outside resources,” Shields said. “We have three case managers, we have three community health workers, and so our protocol is to assign them at check-in to who can help them most quickly.”

“We have some guests that are here more long-term that need help with the housing navigation, the resource navigation,” Ormberg said. “We help with getting them social security cards, IDs, job applications.”

“Sometimes people just say, ‘Hey, I just need an ID,'” Shields said. “We’re going to get you connected to our case manager that does IDs.”

There are resources for guests who have experienced trauma as well.

“We have people who help us diagnose that, and then we get them moved to those agencies that can help them,” Shields said. “Like Southeastern Behavioral Health. Like Call To Freedom. Like Minnehaha County social workers and Avera Behavioral Health. There are housing navigators.”

There are resources available for people struggling with substance use, too.

“Since I’ve been here, I have met quite a few people who have been struggling with their mental health or alcohol and drug addiction,” Pliska said.

KELOLAND News asked Pliska why she came to the shelter. With a smile and slight shake of her head, she politely declines to explain. After all, she’s looking forward.

“We don’t need to say, ‘Well Heidi, how did it get like this?'” Shields said. “We don’t ask those questions. We don’t need to because they’re here to get the help that they need and they know they need.”

“Start over and then get a job, move on and have a normal life,” Pliska said.