Every day the staff at our 29 member agencies go into work determined to make a difference in the lives of the youth and families they serve. The days are sometimes long and challenging but they are also immensely rewarding.

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, our amazing staff at Youth Advocate Programs (YAP) were kind enough to talk about their love for what they do as youth care workers! They answered the questions:

Why do you love the work you do?
Why do you love supporting youth and families?
What do you love about YAP and the Network?

Check out what they had to say!

Felicia Wells (Program Director):
I love the work I do because I have the opportunity to learn something new each time I work with youth and their families, whether it’s about their culture or just a new way to look at things through their eyes. Because I’m open to learning new things, it gives me a chance to demonstrate or expose youth and their families to alternatives to see some negative things in a different light, and hopefully turn those negative things into strengths that help the youth and families accomplish the goals they set for themselves, and possibly exceed them. YAP and the Network are the perfect combination. While YAP philosophy is “strengthening communities, one biography at a time,” and the Network “values young people and therefore creates safe pathways to their future by building strong families and communities,” they both understand that to improving an entire community starts with the individual. YAP also has a “no-reject no-eject” policy, and working with the Network allows YAP to find alternative ways to engage the more unique youth without having to just meet numbers. The Network and YAP both think outside the box to meet each individual/family’s individualized need(s)! Thank you, Network.

Corlissa Pope (Case Manager):
[I love the work I do because] I love making a difference in a child’s life. The reason I love supporting the youth is because they are our future, and if no one is making sure that they have the opportunity to get on the right track, there is no telling where we would be. I love YAP because we give numerous opportunities to the youth to change their lives and strive to be the best them they can be.

Daquavia Bailey (Administrative Assistant):
I love the work I do because I get to help others and give back to the less fortunate youth and families. I love supporting youth because a lot of kids benefit from being in the Youth Advocate Program. The families get to come and interact with other families and youth and build life-long relationships. What I love about the Youth Advocate Program is that they provide assistance and guidance to youth in need, and what I love about the Network is that it provides support for youth and families’ well-being.

Sheryl Kincy (Program Coordinator):
I love what I do because each day presents me with an opportunity to help an individual, a family, a friend or complete stranger. I love supporting youth and families because I feel like I am assisting them in reaching their full potential to be happier, stronger, and to feel empowered. YAP and the FL Network have shown me that they really care about their employees, employees’ families and the families that we serve. YAP and my program director believe in me and my ability to perform my job according to YAP’s mission. This gives me confidence and drive to get up out of bed each morning and serve others all while knowing that YAP’s support is here to help me through the good and bad.

Tarik Housni (Advocate):
[I love the work I do] because I’m a people person. I like to interact with and help others.
[I love supporting youth and families because] I would like to help people the same way I would like to be helped if I’m in need. [What I love about YAP and the Network is] helping others.

Courtney Harrell (Advocate):
I love the work [I do] because it gives me the opportunity to give back to the community.
[I love supporting youth and families because,] as a product of a single parent household, I feel a connection mentoring males from similar backgrounds to be positive figures that would plant a seed. [What I love about YAP and the Network is] both go that extra mile to ensure youth and families get the support they need to be a positive and active part of their community.

Darice Flournoy (Case Manager/Advocate):
I remember when I was a child and wanted to go swimming or to a skating rink. There wasn’t always money or transportation to go. I didn’t know how to swim but would have loved for someone to teach me. YAP provides mentors to take the child to whatever extracurricular activity they are interested in and provide scholarships to pay for it. I get a chance to share things with children I learned the hard way. I have been trained on how to help a child stop aggressive behavior through teaching about negative, hard thoughts that escalate things when he or she is mad, and develop coping skills to think of cool thoughts to de-escalate things. I get to help a child every week. I am consistent, dependable and flexible with my schedule. I tutor, teach them to write their name in cursive, play card games, show off the library and other community resources, scrapbook, design tee shirts, encourage reading and teach them to get along with others and to be a kid. If they learn it, then they will avoid some hardships as a child. It’s nice to see children laughing, being kids and doing age appropriate things, such as playing skipbo, scrapbooking and participating in extracurricular activities at community centers with adult supervision. I love what I do because it helps parents out. They want their children to be happy and well-adjusted, but there’s only 24 hours in a day. The parents have many roles to play, and a child may fall through the cracks if they need more attention than a smile from mom, clean clothes, hot meals, a good-smelling house, siblings, neighbors, toys and a TV every day. The Network has a parent group alongside of the children group. There are criteria for the children group, age 6 to 11. But have no fear, siblings that are older or younger have adult supervision while their parent(s) and sibling(s) go to their groups. I spend 3 hours once a week with the child. I am happy to provide transportation and adult supervision to most of her extracurricular activities. I’m afraid of the dark, so no horror movies or haunted houses for me. YAP’s partnering with the Network has doubled our chances of changing one biography at a time through mentoring and SNAP groups. There will be no barriers between children and families.