Fighting Poverty with Passion
I find it hard to believe it has been almost two and a half months since I started my VISTA year at Covenant House. On one hand, the time has flown by; however, on the other hand, I still feel as if I am getting to know Covenant House and all of its services. I work from home more than I work from the office, and while I greatly appreciate/need the flexibility, it has been difficult to get to know other people on-site. My VISTA role is new, as well, so I sometimes get the sense that some of my Covenant House colleagues are still a little skeptical of the “new” lady around. That being said, two and a half months is still not a lot of time to adjust to a new job or coworkers. In my previous professional experiences, I found it took way more than two months to really find my niche, in both the professional and social spheres of an organization. And in those times, we could still go to happy hours together after work (maybe someday again soon?).
Even if adjusting to a new job didn’t have these growing pains, I’ve come to realize that Covenant House does so much for the youth that we serve. I led my first (virtual!) volunteer orientation two Fridays ago, and I found myself tripping over my tongue, trying to remember what all we do for the youth in our care – Covenant House is so much more than a shelter and job-readiness training for youth experiencing homelessness.
One program I’ve gotten to know better lately is our Two Generation (TwoGen) Program. Of the youth in our care, 40% are pregnant or parenting. On any given night, we also take care of upwards of 25 babies and toddlers who are the children of survivors on human trafficking. These young moms lack a lot of the resources some of us may take for granted, including family members to help babysit the children so the moms can work, take classes, or just have time to themselves. They are the sole providers for these children, and that is an immense burden to bear. In the TwoGen Program, Covenant House staff support these young moms and children in a myriad of ways. Every family receives a personalized case management plan in order to make sure their unique needs are met. Young children are enrolled in daycare, and the program does fun excursions, like trips to the zoo, movie theaters, and even Disney on Ice (all COVID-permitting). The goal is to give these moms and children a loving, supportive environment that promotes healing and stability.
I recently met with the TwoGen case manager, Ebonee, to discuss a grant possibility for a new playspace for the children on-site. I left the meeting with a lot of great ideas on how to best approach the funding opportunity, but what I remember best from our brief call was Ebonee’s ease and confidence. When first starting up the call, catching up on how everyone was doing, Ebonee mentioned she was doing some additional work on-site. She ended her update with what has become my new motivational statement: “I will not under-utilize myself!”
May we all bring that same energy into the spaces we occupy.