So today is the first day of trying to keep up with all my brilliant ideas and to start to blog about my experiences as a young parent outreach worker. I know I have it in me; the ideas are always filling my head. Trying to source material for the parents I work with and to find engaging topics about stuff that really matters to them and their reality. Also for me.  Finding supportive, first hand accounts of really being in the trenches and working with these youth and their reality.  So here it goes.

Today I decided to outline what I see my position as and later, to get into topics as I move forward.

I work with young families, mostly Mothers, who I regularly refer to as, my moms. I am currently working with 34 young moms and that alone is tiring because I wish I could do more and be more. I don’t have a program, per say. It’s based on engagement. Their engagement. If they want to be using the services then they can. If not, that’s fine too. I offer so much more than support and counseling. It’s hard to define. I meet a client where they are at and support them in identifying what they need, what they want. I help them engage with services that they might not know about and help them navigate to ones that best meet their needs. I advocate. I am a second set of ears, a shoulder to cry on, a friendly voice on the end of the line, a “let’s put it in perspective” chat, a “call it like it is” life coach, a reality check, a big hug, a non-judgemental, willing to jump in with you or willing to help pull you out person.

I go to meetings with moms so I can advocate, so I can hear what’s being said and then translate so they understand. I go to Dr’s appointments, legal appointments, income assistance, engage with social workers, go to the food bank. I connect to the transition house and I help secure housing. I help move families and I engage with the police and MCFD when necessary too. I fill out forms, I proof read, I fax, I call, I text….boy do I text! I am the baby snuggler and stealer of little hugs and kisses. I am there with one Kleenex or a box. I have a little extra food for a baby’s lunch and through donations I have those little ‘pick-me-up’ gifts and I drive, ohhh do I drive.

So what do I do? I am a professional. I am educated. I have 19 years under my belt. I have a family and I have life experiences and…. I’m a safe person. The one that hopefully, can get to the point, to the bottom of it, to understand the story. I have the privilege of coming along side and experiencing their hurt and their triumphs; their disappointment and their success. I really am just someone who cares. And luckily enough for me, not only do the clients come, I get paid. And that’s a good thing. Because if I didn’t have my family taken care of it would be really hard to be that ounce of hope for someone who feels hopeless. I see my clients and I think that they see me. Being that authentic, genuine person for them allows me to go to places with them that are too scary for them to go alone.

I think that outreach or not, I genuinely care and that’s what makes my job pretty darn cool if you ask me!

Nicole Andrews
The Cridge Young Parent Outreach Program