June 29, 2012
My name is Candice Welch. I work as an Individual & Family Advocate at Sister Carmen Community Center and have been in my position for almost four years now. Throughout my time here I have seen so many of the participants in our programs create real transformation in their lives.
I meet with three or four different people or families every day. What I never forget during my workday is that it takes a lot of courage to come to SCCC and ask for help. I remember that it could be me or one of my family members or friends in a position to ask for help — it really could happen to anyone.
My appointments start out with a simple conversation. It’s essential to take the time to get to know someone when they first come in seeking assistance. This is important to me and also happens to be a part of our strengths-based approach to providing services. So, for the first part of a visit I listen to stories and ask questions. I sit across from the person I am working with — not behind my desk. I get to know what strengths a person has to work with, what is important to them and their goals, and I also learn about the challenges they are currently facing that brought them to my office. So, in our first session we begin to build a relationship. And it only grows from there.
As we work together more and more, I encourage participants to reach out and create a larger support system for themselves. This can take time, especially if someone is facing a hardship or difficult times and feels embarrassed for others to know what’s going on in their world. As you may have seen presented on our recent Dateline NBC feature, we have met a lot of individuals and families who were formerly living middle class lives and are now facing poverty; People who have never been in the position to ask for help and may feel vulnerable coming to SCCC. It can be especially emotional visiting the Food Bank for the first time. In these kinds of situations I walk people over to the Food Bank, explain the process to them and introduce them to the staff and volunteers there. In cases where extra support is needed, I can immediately connect people with our Mental Health Therapist.
One thing that makes SCCC special is the connection people feel when they come to our center. Individuals often come because of an immediate need, like having their utilities cut off. We know how hard it is to come and ask for help and that there can be a lot of shame and embarrassment. That is why it is important to us that when people leave our center, they go home with the feeling that SCCC and the community genuinely care about them. Also that people see them for who they are and are willing to listen. Change happens through relationships. Sometimes all it takes is having one person who believes in you.
In order to provide services we rely on the support of the community. If you feel you are able to make a contribution to our organization at this time, please visit our donations page. Thank you for your consideration and continued dedication to keep our community strong, healthy and connected.
Individual & Family Advocate
Sister Carmen Community Center