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Humans of the U: Dani Nives

"It’s such a great feeling being able to connect people with resources and see them really doing well on their own."

“My first real exposure to therapy, speaking your truth and really diving deep into emotions was when I started doing wilderness therapy after moving to Utah. It was such a beautiful experience for me and made me think how much I would love to be a therapist, but at that point, it felt like an unattainable goal for me.

A short time later, I started working as a case manager at The Road Home and had some phenomenal supervisors who were social workers and who saw potential in me. They really pushed me to work toward my goals and I was able to get into the Master of Social Work (MSW) program at the U.

I’m now entering my second year of the MSW program while still working with The Road Home—where I have never met a client that I did not enjoy working with. They all have such beautiful, unique stories and they are the most resilient humans I have ever met. It is heartbreaking to see the system failing them on so many different levels.

A client I recently worked with was a young single mother with two young children. She was trying to find a job, but it was difficult because most of them don’t have childcare and due to the pandemic, her oldest child couldn’t go to school. They were living out of her car at the time, but now she has a job and has been successfully housed for several months. I was able to help her call landlords and get her connected to a rapid housing funding source. It’s such a great feeling being able to connect people with resources and see them really doing well on their own.

During the pandemic, I started in a position that was funded by a Homeless Emergency Solutions Grant due to COVID-19 to create a street outreach team working with singles experiencing unsheltered homelessness in South Salt Lake, Midvale and West Valley, and families experiencing unsheltered homelessness across the Salt Lake Valley. Since November, we’ve successfully housed over 30 individuals and we’re looking to expand the program.

Most recently, I was asked to be the interim director of the Men’s Resource Center at The Road Home. I’ve also participated in supporting housing legislation on the hill and helped provide a weekly housing survival class where we discussed stress reduction techniques that could be utilized while experiencing homelessness to support moving into housing and then how to continue utilizing them while in their new home.

This fall I’m going to be doing my second practicum placement at the U’s Counseling Center. I’m really excited to see how one-on-one therapy goes. I’ll also be doing research with the Utah Criminal Justice Center around prison reform. There is a lot of crossover from the incarceration system to homeless services, so I’m really interested in researching that and seeing where all of these interests take me.”

Dani Nives, Master of Social Work student and street outreach supervisor for The Road Home

If anyone is in need of emergency shelter, they can call Utah Community Action’s Homeless Services Line at 801-990-9999.