Hi guys! I hope everyone's service is going well, and I hope we can all make an impact in the communities in which we're serving. My immediate goals for the St. Francis House are immense, because although they serve a much larger population than the Neighborhood Center and offer more services, resources for the case managers and staff here are miniscule. There are a lot of small changes that can be made simply by having more bodies here to do the jobs. Just like at the Neighborhood Center, there are two case managers, a bookkeeper and an ED, all of which are doing the work of 10 people. As far as short term goals are concerned, I'm interested in completely rewriting their resource lists for St. Johns and Duval counties, which have been amended and are now covered in pen and have completely different phone numbers and addresses from what were originally typed. I'd also like to help clean out their warehouse and clothing closets, which are way too small for the amount of product they have stuffed inside. Unlike at the Neighborhood Center, their warehouse is very small and their food is kept on shelves, making it impossible to use the banana box system like we do. Food is just thrown on shelves, stacked as much as possible into the tiny cells for each type of food. Their closet for clothing for the homeless is overflowing, which is great, but the problem is its lack of organization. It would be such a burden relief to the case managers if a little more organization could happen. Of course, they can't spend time organizing it themselves, because they see at least fifty clients before lunch is served at 11am.
Long term, I hope to train myself under the guidance of Maura, a case manager and former mental health professional, to really understand how to work with the homeless and helping get them back on their feet. This is the type of career I want, no matter the struggle, and I've been told by the other case manager, Beth, that Maura is who I should look to for guidance. I've sort of been thrown into the stew pot here, because the plight of the St. Augustine homeless is so much worse than in Deland. Most of y'all probably aren't aware of this, but St. Augustine has set city-wide ordinances against the homeless even standing on street corners, let alone being fed or sleeping on them. Luckily the St. Augustine PD will send the homeless to our shelter before throwing them in jail, which is a blessing. I hope that I can take all of this immense stress and heavy work I'm doing here and bring it back to the Neighborhood Center. More than anything, I'm so so thankful to even be here. This shelter has already changed my life, and I've only been here for an hour and a half.
Monday, May 20, 2013
Week last summer. Once challenge I did face, however, was gathering a list of clients who had been denied unemployment benefits due to their inability to speak English. The unemployment office is required since November 2011, by law, to provide translators in every language. Last summer, I discovered that many clients were denied their benefits because when they called, there was no one able to speak their language. I had to go through a list of clients who had been denied unemployment benefits since 2011 and create a mailing list for them. I then had to type out a letter, get two advocates to translate the letter into Creole and Spanish, and then mail out eighty letters. This was not challenging, but it was time consuming and I had to do it quickly because the lawsuit has to be filed by June 5. My second project was to create a wage sheet table for about 20 farm workers who were underpaid during their time here in the United States. I had to make a table for how many weeks they worked, how much they were paid each week, how much they should have been paid, and how much they are owed. They all had paystubs but many of them were missing. From the paystubs that were present, however, all of the farm workers are owed at least $1,500. 2 weeks down, 5 more to go.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
My goal for volunteering at the law firm is to learn
more about civil rights/human rights law. I volunteered at this law firm last
summer and I learned a lot about the law. As an intern, I get to work under the
supervision of three attorneys in the Farm Worker Unit. I will also get to go
on “outreach.” This means that I will get to go out to the farm worker
communities around my hometown with some of the advocates and attorneys to help
resolve issues. Since I plan to practice law before I teach, this is a perfect
opportunity and maybe I will have a job as soon as I graduate from law school.
Sunday, September 2, 2012
My final week of SOS consisted of helping Alex Sanchez prepare for his first year teaching 3rd grade at Starke Elementary, spending time with the girl I mentor (helping her be a mom for the first time), and working of the "Big Idea" for Bonner Congress. I thoroughly enjoyed all of these. Alex had a great theme for his classroom (Airplanes) and it was a lot of fun being able to decorate and organize everything for his students. It was nice hanging out with the girl I mentor and watching her mature into a woman and awesome mom. I loved planning for the "Big Idea" as I got to work with Jennifer. I also made phone calls to make sure it was a going to be successful and I had the opportunity to speak with the new Bonners at their orientation about it. I already have a lot of support and many Bonners seem interested in service abroad. I hope students continue to be interested in the topic this year and get more involved in our "Big Idea" then ever before. Bonners can count hours for helping Jennifer and me with our "Big Idea" so if you are interested please contact either Jennifer or me. :)
I finished an old project I was working on with the Center for Business Excellence called Project- Self. They are young adults who mainly aged out of the foster care system who could use a little extra help with finances. These young adults must have a job or be in school to qualify for financial assistance and the money could be used for rent, monthly payments, etc. Basically my job was to contact these young adults (about 50) and do follow-ups, check to see how they are doing. I mainly served as an extra person for mental support. If they need anything though, I contacted the Center for Business Excellence and tried to get it for them. For instance, one young adult need his car fixed otherwise he had no transportation to get to work and therefore was going to lose his job. Then he would have more trouble with finances. Luckily, the Center for Business Excellence was able to help and get his car fixed. He did not have to pay for anything and he was able to keep his job.
This week was also very special because one of the girls who I mentor had her baby! She had a beautiful healthy baby boy on August 8th. Everything went well with her and the baby. She even texted me while she was in labor and I was able to go visit her in the hospital the very next day. It was so wonderful to be there and walk through that process with her! :)
Monday, August 27, 2012
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
I am back in Deland now. Blue Lake is over. These past two and a half months have been INCREDIBLE! I made such close friends, several who will be in my life for eternity, and I have made a large impact on a bunch of kids. The kids not just in my cabin, but all through out the camp looked up to me a lot this whole summer. I had great fun with the other counselors, and learned a lot from the faculty. While I do not intend to spend another summer at Blue Lake, I am unbelievably grateful that I was there this summer. I feel more prepared as a college student, and infinitely more ready to become a teacher. I learned a lot of great lessons from a lot of great people.