Written by Theresa Hayes, Case Management Intern
My name is Theresa and I am the new Case Management intern here at Work Options for Women. Based on my experiences over the past few weeks, I am very excited to be spending the next nine months at WOW! You may be wondering who I am and why I’m here. Well, there’s a short answer and a long answer.
The long answer? I am a First Year Masters of Social Work student at the University of Denver. As part of our coursework, each student interns with a nonprofit organization, government agency, or school throughout the academic year. These placements are not a typical internship experience– they are meant to serve as a classroom “in the field.” I am working, shadowing, and learning about the role of a Social Worker and understanding the real-world applications of the skills and theories I am learning in my classes.
I was particularly drawn to WOW by its model and mission. The culinary job training obviously provides a specialized set of skills that helps our students differentiate themselves as they are searching for a job. The case management adds an interesting dimension to the program, making it much more than just a job skills training course. This combination of job skills training and case management really fit my values. We work with individual students to strengthen their job skills while working towards increased confidence and stability in other areas of their life. However, we are not just serving individual students. These students will, in turn, positively impact their families, their support systems, and their communities.
The short answer as to why I’m at WOW? Food.
Food has been a growing passion of mine. Encouraged by my brother, who is a chef, and my experiences working in a natural grocery store and on a community farm in Bolivia, I have become increasingly interested in learning about food, cooking, and healthy eating. I also believe in the uniting power of food across families, regions, cultures, and even countries. Food can be a powerful tool to aid in the creation and strengthening of communities whether through a shared meal, among co-workers in the food industry, or among families and friends.
It has been great to see the students form a community where they work together, learn together, and support one another every day, even though each is at a different point in the program. Also, every staff member comes from a different background and has a different perspective, but collaborates as a team to continue providing the kitchen training and case management that make the WOW program so successful.
I am very grateful for the opportunity to intern at Work Options for Women. I look forward to the next nine months of learning, working with students and staff, and developing in my professional role as a Social Worker!