Lisa J. Goehle founded L.A. Social Service Center, Inc. on February 6, 1996. Lisa Goehle saw a vision of a full-service social service agency, and that vision became a reality. Goehle’s mission was to provide a place where anyone – regardless of age, religion, race, or income- within the community in need of information about various services could have a place to contact. The agency was designed to act as an advocate for those who could not speak for themselves. The agency believes in not only providing information to its clients but also in assisting clients by assessing their needs and finding programs to assist them. L.A. Social Services currently represents clients in their dealings with the Department of Children and Families, the Social Security Administration, the Lee County Courts for Guardianship Hearings and other agencies.
Goehle worked for years in social services, notably with Presbyterian Homes and Housing in Lehigh (Sunshine Villas) from 1988 to 1995, where she served as the facility’s Director of Social Services. At Sunshine, Goehle realized that many seniors carried not only their own problems but also those of other family members. One particular life-changing encounter was with a seventy-two year old female who lived in Sunshine Villas. Goehle frequently provided special counseling for the woman. For example, when Goehle asked the woman why she had left New Jersey, where all her family lived, the woman replied that she just could not take her family’s problems any longer. She stated that she did not understand ‘the way young people lived’ and why they thought it was OK for her to have to take care of her daughter, the daughter’s boyfriend and their two teenage girls. She further stated that she did not appreciate their language or their lifestyles. The woman ended up sending most of her money to New Jersey and she was having difficulty paying her own bills. Goehle suggested the woman see a counselor at the Ruth Cooper Center. The woman agreed, and after counseling, the woman learned it was acceptable to say ‘no’ to her overly dependent family and that she needed a life of her own. The following year, Goehle went to see the woman to assist her in re-certification for Food Stamps. Reflecting on the visit, Goehle says proudly, “She seemed so very happy. She said the best thing she ever did was say ‘no’ to her family and stay in Florida.” Not only did the woman’s choice to stay in Florida help her but it also helped her family learn to stand on their own.
When Goehle started L.A. Social Services, her intentions were to develop a safe place for people to come to ask questions, get some direction, find resources and get needed answers. Goehle knew how frustrating it was to need assistance and have to deal with a phone service or voice mail system. Older adults find it even more frustrating and do not know where to turn when people take messages and do not follow through to aid them. When she interviews clients, Goehle checks into all possible programs that might aid the client so they can be as self-sufficient as possible. Goehle, through the L.A. Social Services Center, gives assistance to those in need by acting as a middleman.