I love working at Hillsides.
Honestly when I can remember when I had my interview with Lupe and literally feeling like this is where I needed to be and now that I'm there, I'm right. Being there is like a CRAZY mirror to myself. Working with my teens really makes me look at where I was at their age and try to really understand where they're coming from on top of all they're going through and experiencing.
My first couple of days there I already could tell a lot and it made it easy for me to jump into the groove of things. Understanding more about how things work and not instantly trying to change things. It's also super comforting knowing that everyone who's there REALLY loves what they do. I want to help them do more but I don't know how. I'm trying to learn to let that come to me and focus on all of the teens I'm working with one at a time. I'm also trying to not go into this mentality of trying to save my kids. I know that's not my job and I'm trying to just be someone to listen and remind them of how great they are and how much they are able to do.
As a sixteen-year-old Haitian refugee, my birthmother climbed out of a refugee boat with her boyfriend onto the U.S. Navy base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The protective shield of the refugee camp became a tiresome burden once the young immigrant realized she was pregnant with a baby boy. After a long pregnancy, on June 4th 1995 I was born into the anxious arms of frightened teenaged parents who did not realize their new family would be soon torn apart. Three weeks later, my birthmother and I were sent to Grand Rapids, Michigan to be raised in foster care; presenting a better opportunity than being returned to Haiti. Unfortunately, my birthfather, after being considered too old, would be sent back to Haiti, disappearing for almost two decades.
These are reflections from corps members and alumni of Jubilee's Urban Service Programs. They cover topics ranging from the sun, fun and friends in in Los Angeles to the uncensored experiences of serving vulnerable populations in our beautiful city. These are Voices of Service.