3“The first time I ever made fried chicken, the outside was so delicious. The inside was raw. It was my first time ever cooking and using those ‘independent skills’. Being the oldest, it was always about taking care of my siblings – this was about me. It was learning: these are the things I like, these are the things I don’t like. We’re given 2-3 gift cards to Walmart or Target to get set up our rooms in transitional housing. You don’t have things like blanket covers and towels so you meet with your social worker, go over the rules and then they take you shopping. You look to them to guidance. I got to pick my own room stuff – I got the cover I wanted.”
With 5 younger siblings to look out for, Isabella relied on her social workers to look out for her.
“My social workers were always great. Knowing I’m the oldest, telling me to take care of myself first. Always being mindful, maybe you want to bring your sisters to this or that; let them be involved in my life wherever possible. The day we got taken away, our social worker did a great job of keeping us together.”
It was her social workers that introduced Isabella to the wealth of services available to her, including the Business Development Internship that set her up with a paid internship, and ultimately, a job she’s enjoyed for 4 years now helping those in the same position she was.
“The internship is a great internship for youth – I just want it to get spread out more so more youth to be aware of it. it’s a great opportunity, I never thought I could work for the County. For social workers, understanding youth and taking time to understand and mentor them, you never know what may be going on at home. Believing in kids is what’s going to help them move forward and believe in themselves.”
*In order to protect the anonymity and privacy of our families, names have been changed and photos are randomized.