When applying for the Micah Summer Fellowship, I knew that I wanted to work for St. Mary’s Center in Oakland because of the job description, but most importantly, because of their mission statement/purpose of the organization. Their mission focuses on the humanity of all people, especially since they work with low-income seniors and children. On the St. Mary’s Center website, I noticed that there was a tagline for their site, which also caught my attention: Transforming Lives. Building Community. Creating Change. I felt that I was called to be at St. Mary’s Center, and there was no other site that resonated with me as much as this place.
I am truly grateful to be an intern and part of the St. Mary’s Center team, because I have learned so much about the organization, but also about the issues that many of these Seniors face outside in society. One project that I am currently working on is planning out field trip and events that the Seniors will enjoy. Last week, I helped create a survey and had Seniors fill them out to have a sense of what activities they enjoy doing. The questions ranged from different locations, activities, and events, but one of the main reasons we created a survey was to see how many seniors are able to participate due to physical condition/health and time of day to get a sense of the Seniors’ mobility. I’ve also sat in and shadowed during case management meetings, attended home visits, and helped in planning and participating in many programs/events.
I love coming to work every day and not knowing who I will encounter, what stories will be shared, or how my emotions will play out while working. In previous experiences, I learned a lot about organization development and how to execute tasks/programs well, but SMC has allowed me to form relationships with the community I am serving and the community I am now a part of. Because I interact with a lot of the Seniors and clients, I am challenged to instigate dialogues to form a sense of trust and comfort, but I also realized that this is a risk. I need to be prepared to respond to whatever stories are shared, and also how to carry myself as some may take a toll on my emotions. Because I am working with extremely low-income Seniors, they have had many challenges throughout their life who do not have many family members in the area for support. Many Seniors suffer from loneliness leading to depression, and I noticed that many come to St. Mary’s Center because it is a space to be with friends and interact with other people.
After this program, I hope to continue having ties to St. Mary’s Center and the people I meet. Because I am interested in working with low-income individuals and families, specifically in social work and case management, my goal is to see if this continues to be a plan/end result after college. For the organization itself, I want to turn their ideas into concrete plans or tasks, but also be part of the follow-through and how to achieve them. I want the organization to be able to dream and know that there is someone who is willing to help them fulfill it.