Amnoni Myers, a social work student at Gordon College in Boston, MA, recently completed her Social Work Practicum at GLIDE’s Walk-In Center and Women’s Center through the Westmont Urban Studies Program. “Before I even interviewed I came to a Sunday Celebration and just fell in love – I love the environment, I love what GLIDE is doing,” says Amnoni.
In addition to working in both the Walk-In Center and the Women’s Center for six months, and even singing in the GLIDE Ensemble, Amnoni also participated in a poetry workshop led by Janice Mirikiani with members of the Women’s Center. The three week writing sessions culminated in the exhibit “Behind the Mask: Beauty Revealed,” which was presented at Sunday Celebration on April 27, and is on display in the GLIDE Creative Space for six weeks.
What have you been working on at GLIDE?
At the Walk-In Center I provide basic services to clients who come in. A lot of them are coming in very fragile, so what we’re doing is providing basic needs such as hygiene kits, clothing vouchers – we’re more like front-line workers. I also do DMV vouchers if they’ve lost their ID or need ID. I help with housing and rental assistance, so if people are coming in looking for housing or want to get off the streets, I help them go through a housing listing and help them fill out applications. I’m an advocate and I also do case management, so I meet with clients one-on-one to help them with their personal skills and goals. We do motivational interviewing skills so we can help enable clients for positive growth. We’re helping to establish their strengths, so we take a strengths-based approach by asking them what do they need, and how can we help walk alongside them. I’m also helping to create a trauma informed care model – this is something that we want to do across the Community Building Division – to help establish safety with the clients when they come in.
In the Women’s Center I work with clients who have experienced domestic violence, trauma, abuse, or are just looking for a place to go. Many of the women are homeless. I sit in with the groups, Tuesday – Friday, I also help with activities. One thing I came up with was to make a stress ball with balloons and play-doh, and then do an activity about ways to reduce stress. Many of the women that come into this environment are very stressed out, often times they don’t even know it because they’ve been stressed out their entire lives. Helping them identify where their stress is and how to work on that is really cool.
What have you learned from your time at GLIDE?
I think the major thing is loving people where they’re at, unconditionally. This was a very culturally shocking experience for me because I’ve never experienced homelessness the way I’ve seen it here. Learning about the population I’m working with has been a huge deal for me, because you want to know who you’re working with and why you’re working with them – if you have no basis or no experience of why you’re working with people, then it’s kind of pointless. So one of things that I’ve learned here is how to love people and how to meet people where they’re at.
I’ve learned a lot about myself in the process while I’ve been here through the people that I’m working with. I’ve gotten a lot of affirmation about my skills. I’ve had to wrestle a lot in terms of the different populations I’ve been working with, but overall learning about myself through the people I’m serving has been a huge part of my growth here.
Do you have a story or moment during your time at GLIDE that changed you?
I work with clients on a daily basis. A client came in and was looking for housing – I was tired that day, and I was helping the person, but my immediate thought was to make another appointment with them because I knew it was going to be too much work at the time. And in that moment, the client said to me ‘This is really urgent, I’m looking for housing, and I really need help.’ And I realized things that are not urgent for me are urgent for other people. It really helped me put a name and a face to a situation – because it’s easy to say that things are working, but if you’re not in the circumstance, if you’re not out in the street living day to day, you can easily become desensitized to what people are going through. It really challenged me to understand that sense of urgency. Because it’s easy for me to say, ‘I don’t need housing, I’m ok,’ but when you think about people who are going through these situations, it is important. So whenever I work with a client – if they need a DMV voucher, if they need housing, if they need shelter, I have in the back of my mind that I’m not working for me, I’m working for them. That has really motivated me to excel in my work, and why I do this work – it’s not necessarily for me, it’s to benefit other people.
Where are you going next?
I’m graduating! It’s a big deal because I’m a first generation college student. This summer I’m doing a program called the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute – it’s a foster youth internship program, an opportunity for former foster care youth to come to D.C. and work with Congress on legislation around issues of adoption and foster care. There’s no greater way than for people who have experienced it to have input, so there can be changes and reform to the system. So that’s what I’m doing next, and I’m hoping to come back to San Francisco because I really enjoy it here.
What’s your GLIDE Soundtrack?
‘Happy’ by Pharrell. That’s my song! I literally get up and dance every time it comes on in the Walk-In Center.