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Spotlight on a [Re]Builder: Andra Henning

This month RTMC caught up with one of our passionate RTMC Board Member, Andra Henning, pictured above with her son. Benjamin. The photos above were taken as part of their yearly Easter selfie tradition! We are excited to share more about the vital role Andra plays in our organization and discuss how her unique experiences set us up for success. Andra is the Director of Professional Development and Clinical Education for Therapy at Adventist Healthcare. 
RTMC: Tell us more about you and your role at Adventist HealthCare and how that ties in with RTMC’s mission and service to our community:

AH: So first of all, I am a mom. I have an adopted son named Benjamin who is seven years old. He’s like my little sunshine. He’s my dynamo. I also have a twin sibling who lives in the area. I’m in ministry at my church, so working at Adventist HealthCare, a faith-based organization, has really suited me and is really rewarding. And as an occupational therapist by training, I love that we help folks recover after major life events and support them as they transition back to as much independence within the community as possible.

I became acquainted with Rebuilding Together in 2000, with the Baltimore County affiliate. I was their volunteer coordinator for a few years. I would encourage others to volunteer their time to go out and conduct home assessments and I’d help the contractors look at the house from a functional standpoint, not just a structural standpoint. We’d build rapport so quickly with the homeowners, allowing us to really get in there to figure out ways to improve their day-to-day lives.

As my career progressed, I moved into leadership but never left my love for keeping patients safe at home. As a manager, and then director for Adventist HealthCare Rehabilitation, I supported home evaluations and family training by the therapy staff. 

In 2019, I joined the Board of Directors at Rebuilding Together Montgomery County. When my patients discharge from the rehab hospital, I trust in RTMC to collaborate with us to look at the determinants of health and help the patient age successfully at home. It’s become a really great partnership. My RTMC Board service has given me an opportunity to grow as a leader. Being on the Board with all the other folks with diverse experiences has also broadened my perspective on leadership. 

RTMC: What is the most memorable moment you’ve had while collaborating on an act of service with RTMC?

AH: Recently, I conducted three home assessments for RTMC clients. I hadn’t done that in a while and I was able to meet with the homeowners and talk with them about how they manage in their homes. It was wonderful to see how people really open up to you when they are in need – they’re very trusting. To be able to sit down with someone and listen to their story, hear about their health conditions and learn what their needs are is very rewarding. It’s a good feeling to know that you helped a vulnerable homeowner safely stay in their home. It is very empowering to the clients, but it’s very rewarding to us as well

On the RTMC Board, I’m on the Program Committee. We look at how we can be more efficient and better serve the community. As a clinician, I like that I can share my perspective of what it means to age successfully at home.

RTMC: You have a well-rounded expertise on the whole operation! Tell us a little more about occupational therapy and what initially attracted you to that field. 

AH: I am a person of faith and so I love to serve and volunteer through my church. I love working with seniors, food banks and other charity organizations. I was an intelligence officer in the US Army for four years. When I realized I didn’t want to remain in the military as a career, I spent time reflecting on what I like to do and I determined that serving in my church was something that kept me really engaged. I also decided to pursue occupational therapy as I saw it as something I would find rewarding. In occupational therapy, you can serve patients from pediatrics to geriatrics. You can work in a hospital or in-home health or as an administrator. This career has allowed me to combine many things I love to do. 

RTMC: How else would you want to see RTMC develop moving forward, especially in a post-pandemic world?

AH: I think there is a great future for RTMC moving forward. Maury Peterson coming on and her leadership style has really energized the staff. I was glad I could support the team on their recent successful grant application to the Adventist HealthCare Foundation. I also like that we have an increasing focus on determinants of health. While that is a buzz phrase right now, it is a fact that there are determinants that impact how successfully someone can age in place. For the future, I’m hoping we continue to pursue partnerships to provide wraparound services for our homeowners. 

I would love for RTMC to be a hub, where we partner with other organizations that have an interest in keeping seniors and those with disabilities in their homes and keeping them safe. Access to social services and other healthcare services is really important. And considering the conditions that some of these people are in, they do have lasting effects. We need to be able to connect these people with more bridges to wellness. I love that our approach focuses on ensuring vulnerable homeowners are in the best possible environment that meets their needs rather than just finishing a repair and moving on.

RTMC: Knowing people like you that are passionate within our community is very inspiring. On this team, everyone is really happy to play their part even though we all have such different skill sets as a team. Each of our unique areas of expertise is like our superpowers. 

AH: I love the idea of a “superpower”. We all have our gifts and talents to share. In this case, we are working together and tapping into what everyone has to give to help promote safety for all in our community. Thank you so much. It’s an honor to serve and then also to be featured.