Featured Co-op Student
Co-op: Italian Home for Children – Residential Counselor
I am a residential counselor at the Italian Home for children, which is a residential group home for children with social, behavioral and family issues. The group home consists of two different units; CBAT, which is short term, and the long term residential program. I work in the long term program, playing a huge role in children’s lives every day. The goal in these residential programs are to help these children gain skills they will need in their everyday lives, and to help them obtain those skills to go home to their families, or get adopted. Aside from helping them gain skills, I am also expected to form a bond with them, which can determine how effective helping them will be. I am expected to make sure each child is receiving the correct amount of care, by providing them with their everyday necessities (food, clothing, etc.), and teaching them how to care for themselves through daily routines. Aside from providing all of the basic necessities, I try to give them a feeling of being loved, and cared for, that is why I spend time trying to plan activities to do on a daily basis. My role is a lot bigger than I can entirely express in writing, because it’s more than what I can put into words. However, it is my mission to become the closest person to family that each child can have to feel loved, safe, and cared for.
What do you love most about your co-op?
What I love the most about my coop is being able to have the opportunity to see children learn, grow and being able to create a bond with them. The feeling I have when sitting next to a kid during bedtime, while listening to music or reading a book, watching as he or she fall asleep; or arriving to work hearing a child yell my name and coming up for a hug, is unexplainable. My heart has a warm spot for each and every one of them. It is no myth that this job comes with many struggles, but there is nothing I enjoy more than knowing that I am the reason these children feel loved. Many of the children have family members who can’t seem to show up. There’s been many days when I wanted to burst into tears after seeing the face of a child whose been told there will be no visit, which he or she has been waiting for all week. However, it becomes my goal to make their day better and I will go above and beyond to make sure that happens. To see the smile on a disappointed child’s face is the warmest feeling I could ever ask for. I love my coop because I am having the chance to be a better person than most people have ever been to them. I want them to know that I am not another disappointment, and there’s no amount of words, kicks, punches, bites, or any other form of anger that will make me give up on them. My mission is to make a difference, and if I haven’t so already, then I hope by the end of my coop I am able to say I did.
What did the people I encountered teach me about myself, about my career path?
When I first started my coop, I encountered so many issues for the first few weeks I was there. I felt like I didn’t fit in, and all alone. The problem was, I never bothered to say anything until things got bad and I became frustrated. When I finally spoke up the whole environment changed. As time went by, I became closer to those I once felt I would never build a relationship with. However, things aren’t perfect, but I learned to deal with my obstacles. If I learned anything on coop, it would be to have patience for those around me who may not be the best to work with at times, but worth trying to learn and grow from; How to accept that there will be many times when everyone will not like me, but I have to accept and understand that it’s a part of life, and instead of trying to understand why someone may not accept who I am, sometimes it’s better to move forward and find someone else who is willing to dedicate their time and get to know who I am; Have courage, because I need to speak up, and not be afraid of what the consequences may be. I have a habit of waiting until I am fed up to speak and someday that may backfire. I have to learn to speak for myself instead of letting things just happen, it can change so much about how people view me and how serious I am taken. It’s not about what I say, but how I say it and I can handle things well, I just have to take action. Lastly, to be optimistic; There will be many days in my career when I will feel like giving up because things aren’t going how I expect, and I may feel like a failure. However, I have to find the positive in every situation so I am able to be good at what I do and learn from my many mistakes I will make throughout my career as a psychologist.
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