Orna Feighery is a senior bilingual transitional living specialist at Youth Villages in Massachusetts. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and Hispanic studies from Wheaton College in Massachusetts.
What made you want to work at Youth Villages?
Youth Villages’ program is hands on. This is not talk therapy – it’s making a difference in the lives of children and their families and young adults who have aged out of foster care by working intensively with them in their own homes, the community and school. As transitional living specialists, we do whatever we need to do to help a young adult live successfully on his or her own. That means we tackle all kinds of issues not covered in psychology classes. We take them to doctor’s appointments, help them find a new job, teach them how to write a resume, show them how to budget, find a safe and affordable apartment and much more. We do whatever it takes to help a young adult find success, which makes our services a lot more effective than they otherwise would be. What I also love about Youth Villages are the chances the organization gives you to jump right in and get to work. You get a lot of support here from your team, your supervisor and through group supervision meetings, which are big brain-storming meetings on how we can address certain situations and behaviors and make a lasting difference. We all give each other advice and suggestions, and we hold one another accountable to change lives.
What do you love about being a bilingual transitional living specialist?
Working one-on-one with young adults who have aged out of foster care is something I love doing. This is so much more than a job. It’s a chance to make a real and lasting difference in someone’s life. That’s an awesome feeling.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I typically go to the office in the mornings to handle paperwork and do treatment planning. I keep the afternoons open to go in the field and see the young adults I work with. Fridays are generally devoted to paperwork – there is a lot of paperwork to complete. But what make my job exciting is that every day is different, and I get to do different things all the time. Today, for example, I am helping a girl apply for health insurance. After that, I am taking another young woman to do job applications. Tomorrow one of the young people I help will need to meet her lawyer to prepare for trial, and afterward, we want to register her for certified nursing assistant courses. This young woman is a mom, so I am also helping her look for child care options. Another young adult I work with is homeless right now. I helped her settle into a shelter, and we are now looking for more permanent living options. We are working on filling out apartment applications. She is already on the waiting lists for some places. So these are just some of the things I get to help young adults with, and every day is different. But generally, I spend a third of my time doing paperwork, another third working with the young adults one on one and the last third I spend driving. Read more of this post