My name is Madeleine Weick and I have just completed a 10 week internship with A Woman’s Place (AWP) through Foundation’s Community Partnerships’ Summer Youth Corps program.
The 10 weeks that I interned at AWP were a whirlwind of emotions and experiences. From working in the administrative office to the emergency shelter, I was able to gain a comprehensive understanding of this amazing nonprofit.
I began my experience at AWP by completing the 40 hour direct service advocacy training, something I would suggest anyone attend if you are able to. The coordinator Lark Irwin is so sweet and made training something to look forward to, but the best part would be the relationships the trainees made with each other throughout the week.
Next I dove straight into working at AWP full time; my schedule was always full with different activities from the various departments. I would split my time between shelter work, crisis hotline, empowerment programs, community outreach, and of course AWP’s very own thrift store, In Full Swing.
Probably my favorite experience all summer was graduation day of the participants in one of the Empowerment Projects, Women Taking Charge. This is 12 week education program and yearlong mentor/mentee commitment for clients seeking to regain their independence through practical education sessions such as financial literacy and job preparation. Seeing the clients grow week after week left me hopeful that women or men who have been hurt by those they love can still thrive and be happy, despite the daily hardships and reminders they may face.
I think this speaks to the potential every single person has in them. When we live in a society that is so competitive, if you fall behind even a little it can feel like everything is working against you. Talking not only with the wonderful participants in the program, but also shelter residents and other victims, I have been able to see the resilience they all have in them. They are hardworking, smart, and so incredibly strong because not only are they putting their lives back together, but their hearts. Each and every one of the victims I spoke with never saw this coming, but they still persist and don’t let it stop them from moving forward and living life.
If I learned one thing this summer, it would have to be that we have to appreciate the good in our lives and in people. It is very easy to get jaded and dismissive when working with such disappointing situations and people, but instead of focusing on the bad things, we have to look at the good things that happen, even if it they are few and far between. When a victim reaches out, this is a huge deal to them and although I became used to working with AWP clients and those in need, I needed to maintain an appreciation for their strength. Asking for help is difficult, but when you or your loved ones safety is at risk, it can be the only option. This is why AWP exists, and why I chose to spend my summer working here, to be someone to turn to when there is no other option.