YOUTH & FAMILY WELLNESS

DARIUS THOMPSON - SHEPHERD'S CLINIC, WEEK 5

What else can I do?

The morning of July 14th, I leaped out of the bed, skipped to the shuttle stop, and trotted into the Shepherd’s Clinic just as bright eyed and bushy tailed as I could be for my first day of work. I greeted my supervisor with a wide smile and with my mind and arms wide open, ready to learn as much as a possible and ready to help out wherever and whenever possible. My supervisor satisfied my enthusiasm and presented to me a mountain of projects that needed to be completed. Five weeks later, that mountain has become a mole hill.

Over the last 5 weeks, with the help of my supervisor and my coworkers, I’ve found my place within the clinic and developed a groove. My coworkers and I work well together. Like, really well. Like a machine. Like an automatic tennis ball machine. People toss work at us, and we shoot it back at them gift wrapped with a pretty red bow on top before they even turn around to leave the room. Medical records are being sent out on the same day we receive the requests. Blythe, one of my coworkers, brought us into the 21st century by digitizing the calendars that track when the doctors and insurance counselors come into the clinic. Most of the volunteers now know how to check in, check out, schedule appointments for, and collect donations from patients all by themselves. Most of the volunteers either know or are learning how to screen patients on their own. My supervisor trusts me to train the new volunteers. Life is swell.

But I didn’t apply to this internship to achieve a swell life. I came to make a lasting impact and I came to be exemplary. And so now I ask what else can I do? What else needs to be done? How can I use my talents and experiences in a unique way to make a lasting impact to the benefit of the Shepherd’s Clinic? The clinic was nice enough to invest in me over these last 5 weeks to help me develop valuable life skills, gain work experience, and expand my knowledge about the health care field and nonprofit organizations. What can I give back? Figuring that out and doing it will be the focus of my efforts for these last few weeks. I pray God expands my viewpoint and helps me to think outside of the box. If ya’ll have any ideas, hit a brother up.

AISA MORENO-MEGUI - MARTHA'S PLACE, JUBILEE ARTS, YOUTHWORKS, WEEK 5

My program director at Martha's Place had one foot out the door from the start of my internship five weeks ago. She finally pulled the trigger this past Monday and left.

Fortunately, there was only one resident residing at Martha's Place at the time and she was being transitioned out to a different program more suited to her needs. The only people who were negatively effected by this were the house managers. Without executive staff (mostly the addictions counselor, who needs to be hired by the program director), no intakes of new residents can take place. Without new residents, house managers do not have a job. From my knowledge, they were let go.

As for me, the rest of the week was spent searching for a new placement and volunteering for Jubilee Arts, a sister organization of Martha's Place. Jubilee is a community arts center that provides classes for youth and adults. It was fun having the opportunity to work with the youth on their art projects.

I am disappointed that Martha's Place is going through this transition because addiction is an enormous issue in Baltimore. I am also disappointed for more selfish issues. I was really looking forward to working there, and unfortunately, a lot of my time there was spent watching the ship sink. I learned a lot, but this is definitely not what I was expecting nor was I hoping for this particular experience. Such is life.

I start at my new site, YouthWorks, on Monday. I am not sure what to expect, but I am open to the experience.

Tune in next week.
 

CHIJIOKE ORANYE - PATTERSON PARK, WEEK 5

Although Abby, Jessa, Reverend father Glen Huber, and all the other CIIP mentors warned us about entering our partner organizations with this mindset that we’re about to save the people of Baltimore, I couldn’t help it. After sitting through the one-week orientation boot camp 9 hours each day and getting crammed with information revolving non-profit and the people of Baltimore, I couldn’t help it. After spending 1 year solely focusing on my academics and ignoring the City I’ve lived in for 10 years, I couldn’t help it. After seeing the work that my childhood friends, Logan Young and Jeffrey Obike, were involved in to uplift the youth of Baltimore, I couldn’t help it. I wanted to give back to my city, but my mindset wasn’t the right way to go about it.
I realized this in the process of pushing through a dance club I had in mind. I mentioned the thought of me teaching African dance to the kids, at which my boss liked, the kids liked, and their parents wanted to get a hand in. But that was it. The club didn’t get father than a desirable thought. Instead my site supervisor gave me busy work and an after-camp soccer club to take charge of. At first I felt dejected. I felt like the failure of starting the dance club reflected poorly on my dedication to my internship and to my kids. The first day of the soccer club was 97 degrees hot and I helped set up cones and watched as Coach Toy ran the kids through different drills. The next day of soccer club, my boss told me coach Tony wouldn’t make it, so the kids were mine. This was 20 minutes before the start time.
At the conclusion of the club that day, one of the small Hispanic kids, Phillipe, came to me and asked when the next soccer club day was. Then another kids asked me if he could bring his friends. And then I proceeded to recollect more soccer drills I had done in my days that were more interactive than what I had the kids do that day. I watched videos of heading and passing drills and created a list of the most interactive ones I saw for the next soccer club day. I told the kids to bring their friends for an even more fun experience for the following soccer club day. I told myself that I would put my all into this soccer club to not only make my kids happy, but also my site supervisor and her staff. I told myself that I didn’t come here to save anyone. I’m here to support my staff in the already benevolent work they are doing for the kids.
 

EILEEN RAMIREZ - ESPERANZA CENTER, WEEK 5

With three weeks left in the program, I’ve realized one thing: I’m not ready to say goodbye.

I wish I could say it’s for purely unselfish reasons but that would be a lie. I realized in these last five weeks, I’ve found a piece of myself that I had lost in the last two years. You see, I went to a career academy high school that focused on Allied Health Sciences - meaning that along with a normal high school curriculum, everyone took specific health care related classes. (Think medical school but for high schoolers.) It was in those four years that I really discovered my passion for medicine and knew that was what I wanted to do with my life.

Going to college, I lost that reminder I had every day in high school. There’s no Medical Terminology class here, no EKG interpretation, hell, not even an Anatomy and Physiology class. Hopkins gives me all the science intensive classes with some medical aspects here and there whereas in high school I had both my science classes and my medical classes. So in these last two years, I’ve missed having that component in my education and really just being exposed to that kind of environment. Interning at the Esperanza Center made me realize just how much I enjoy medicine and learning about different illnesses, treatment options, etc.

My experience in these last five weeks has helped fill a void in me that’s been empty for a long time now. With sophomore year being a time where you sort of question every decision you make, I really needed this type of exposure to remind myself of what my goals are and what I’m doing here. That’s not something I want to lose any time soon, especially not once classes start up and life gets crazy again.
 

AYESHA SHIBLI - MARYLAND OUT OF SCHOOL TIME NETWORK, WEEK 5

By this point of the program I’ve discussed my experiences with Ramadan, exploring Baltimore, meeting people with such intense dedication to this city and my expectations versus reality of working with young people. However, what I’ve neglected to discuss yet makes up a significantly large portion of my day—six hours a day, four days a week—my program.

SummerREADS is a program through Maryland Out of School Time Network which recognizes the opportunity gap between higher and lower income students. The summer is a risky time for students who do not have the opportunity to attend programming that helps them retain skills developed during the school year—students can actually lose half a year of learning over the summer without consistent exposure to materials that keep them academically engaged. Which is were we come in.

What’s amazing about SummerREADS is that it is so intertwined with maintaining students’ literacy levels but it doesn’t feel like school. (I promise, no one paid me to say this.) I know it sounds like a broad, possibly reaching claim to say that the work we do instills a lifelong love of literacy in each and every student that passes through the library doors—but it definitely does something for every student. Whether they’re reading at grade level, above or below, my co-counselors, site librarian and I work hard to make being in the library a special experience for our students.

Each week my co-counselors and I plan a theme based on our community partner visits: an animal theme the week the Maryland Zoo visited to a Lorax theme this upcoming week as we expect a visit from Blue Water Baltimore. We then center our activities around the theme: our students have down time to read, center time which rotates groups between a reading, writing and creative activity to extend the day’s lesson and an almost daily workshop with a community partner.

While each week has brought its own new experiences and challenges, I’m looking forward to this week, as my students and I explore one of my favorite books, Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax together. I know all too well that my own excitement can make it challenging for me to be receptive of a student who may not be as excited (I am hoping this is not actually possible…) but ultimately I hope that as we enter week four of the program that the work we’ve done together so far continues to excite the students about reading.