“I’m just going to put these down and speak from the heart,” she said, tossing her note cards aside. From the day she stepped in our door five years ago, Teresa has challenged herself and others to grow and make courageous decisions for the well-being of their families. And now, speaking in front of the entire agency staff, her honesty helps everyone see how The Family Center continues to make a difference in our community.
Teresa came to The Family Center as a client and has turned into one of our biggest advocates. She received services from the legal, social, and mentoring departments and has undergone training with our outreach team, making her a well-equipped advocate. “A lot of people don’t want help because they’re scared,” Teresa explains. “You have to understand what people are going through and help them take baby steps.”
In her own life, Teresa appears to opt for giant leaps. After becoming a member of The Family Center’s Consumer Advisory Committee and Peer Outreach Educators, she has recently become the first Outreach Educator for our B-SWEL program. “I think it’s wonderful,” she says. “The program teaches you how to eat right, exercise, and you can receive counseling as well.” Hearing the excitement in her voice, it’s easy to see how Teresa has been so successful in her outreach role. “My goal is to help bring in more clients. If I can guide someone here, then I will.”
Teresa says she was inspired to give back after the support she received from The Family Center made a positive impact in her and her family members’ lives. “I have to give back because they gave so much to me,” she said. “If even one parent comes in, at least you can say, ‘Wow, I helped one person.’”
But Teresa’s advocacy efforts have already helped many community members make positive choices for their families. In addition to helping change other people’s lives for the better, she also believes that reaching out makes her a stronger and more unselfish person. “You can’t keep it unless you give it away.”
In this season of giving thanks, The Family Center expresses gratitude for all of those, like Teresa, who choose to partner with us in helping families stay stronger, longer. If you would like to give to The Family Center, please visit www.thefamilycenter.org to learn more about our holiday toy drive and other opportunities to donate throughout the year.
Posted by Teresa, Family Center Peer Outreach Educator
Volunteering for The Family Center’s Just Buddies program since April 2007, I signed up with hopes to make a positive impact on someone’s life.
It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
My “buddy” is now 17 years old and in high school. I have learned much from him. He has taught me how to deal with adversity and to be thankful for what we have in our lives. We spend a couple days a month together on the weekend and do everything from going to the park for a catch to hanging out and watching football. One favorite activity of his is going to the movies; he loves action and horror movies.
A couple of years ago I decided to get more involved with The Family Center so I joined the Leadership Council. It has allowed me to get to know other like-minded New Yorkers interested in making a difference. The teamwork and spirit that go into planning events such as Bloom and Bids for Kids have made them a tremendous amount of fun. Their success is extremely important, as the funds raised go directly to supporting Family Center programs, like Just Buddies.
I will be at Bids for Kids tomorrow with a bunch of friends and I can’t wait! You should join us –not only to have a good time, but also to make your own positive impact on a child’s life!
John Morro, Buddy & Leadership Council member