Building a sense of connection with clients is a vital part of providing strong services at WJS. These are the things you do to show you’re present, listening, and engaging with them. Sometimes, small activities can make a big difference.
A young woman and man that Dorene worked with for many years demonstrated the impact that connection can have. The couple was just out of high school, with no jobs, no transport, no home, and in a cycle of having a new child every year. They lived with a family member who had their own challenges. Additionally, the young mother was suffering from strong postpartum depression. Dorene could feel it was important to be there for her emotionally. She took steps to help her connect to community resources.
One of the things that Dorene helped with was getting the young mother to and from doctor appointments. “They didn’t have a vehicle, so I made sure she was able to go to her prenatal appointments, to go and transport her to all her referrals and for therapist appointments that she had,” Dorene says. “It gave her time to get out of the house and that was huge for her, so she could just enjoy the time away.”
Dorene helped her use a medicine wheel to better understand her strengths and weaknesses, to support and identify when she needed extra help in a certain area of her life. Every time she got pregnant, Dorene made sure to connect her with prenatal parenting tools. She spent a lot of time simply listening to the young mother to be there for her emotionally.
“I gave her hope,” says Dorene. “I respected her beliefs. I identified her values, identified her needs. And a lot of understanding.”
She set up therapy sessions for the woman and her husband, connected her to cultural resources like rattle-making workshops, and drove her to get her GED to upgrade her English and math. These were just some of the practical steps that Dorene took to build a strong connection with the young mom to support her family’s independence. And the payoff was huge.
Now they have their own home, the father has a job, the kids are in school, and the mom is continuing to build on her self improvement.
“She gained a lot of tools to be the parent that she is today,” Dorene says. “And they’re going to fly. They are my pride and joy.”