Meet Jennifer Wilson, Clinical Liaison in Morristown

Jennifer at her family's farm

Jennifer at her family’s farm

Meet Jennifer Wilson, Clinical Liaison in the Morristown, Tennessee office.

What is your educational background?

I attended East Tennessee State University, where I majored in Human Services, with a minor in Family Studies. I graduated Cum Laude in December 2013, while being a member of various Honors Societies as well.

What did you do before coming to Youth Villages?

While a student at East Tennessee State University, I volunteered multiple times weekly for several years at Coalition for Kids, Inc. During the last year of my undergraduate education, I was fortunate enough to receive an internship at the same facility. This internship allowed me to work with underprivileged youth between the ages of six and twelve. Originally, I was brought in and hired to fill a pilot position for the Intercept program at Youth Villages. After a couple of months in the field, I received a promotion to a full time Family Intervention Specialist. In November, I received a new position as Clinical Liaison at the Morristown office, where I began conducting Pre-Placement Assessments.

What do you love about your city/what do you do for fun in your city?

I believe the aspect that I love most about my city is the sense of community between the residents. I have lived in the same city since I was about three years old, and over the course of my lifetime, my family and I have made numerous lifelong friendships. Upon my return from college, these friendships held strong as each person expressed strong care for me still, requesting updates on my time away. The best aspect about my city is that the residents here are more than simply neighbors or friends; these people are extended members of my family.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of work?

When I am not working, I spend the majority of my time with my friends and family. I strongly believe that in order to effectively assist the families in our programs, we have to be able to maintain adequate self-care. In order for me to re-charge my batteries, if you will, I spend time watching movies with friends and family; being outside on our family farm; cozying up with a good book and a glass of sweet tea; or going on walks with my dog (weather permitting). My desire to help others also continues to play a role in my daily life outside of work. Very recently, I became a sponsor for a child living in severe poverty in Vietnam. Closer to home, my family and I also donate time and resources to charities such as Habitat for Humanity regularly.

What is your favorite part about your job/about working for Youth Villages?

My favorite part of my job at Youth Villages is the overwhelming joy I receive once I have successfully helped a family. Whether it is my own case or I’m providing assistance to another counselor on their case, the joy I feel knowing that I am helping make a difference, no matter how big or small, is what motivates me every day to continue giving my all to Youth Villages. Not only do I attempt to help others with my educational services, but I also give a portion of my paycheck to Our Family Campaign in order to assist those needing financial support.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

The most challenging part of this job for me is the realization that not every case can be a “success story” on an equally large scale. For instance, when helping one family, I might begin to notice significant improvements in their interactions and behaviors right away; however, with another family, I might not notice any significant improvements at all. However, despite the fact that “significant” changes are not being made, it is vitally important to note even the smallest of improvements. Ultimately, each one of our cases are unique and different; therefore, we can’t say any case is less successful than another. Maybe the child doesn’t exude his/her improvements visually, through external means; however, as counselors, we are looking for internal changes as well. Most often, it is difficult to feel as if we are making effective changes when they cannot be visually measured; however, each and every therapeutic interaction with our families is vitally important, and I strongly believe the key to success is remembering that as such.

What is one fun/interesting fact about you?

I think the most fun/interesting fact about me is that I live on a farm. We moved to my current residence when I was about three years old; therefore, this has always been home to me. The greatest part about it, is that over the years, various other family members have migrated to the “family farm” as well. Not only do my parents live on the farm, but also my grandparents, as well as two aunts and their families. When the weather is perfect out, we all get together and go four-wheel riding, have bonfires, or have dinner all together. In my mind, there is nothing better than spending quality time with friends and family; therefore, having all of us live so close together makes family gatherings almost a weekly occurrence. Having such as close-knit family helps me keep the Youth Villages motto “The Force For Families” close to my heart.

Meet Rebecca O’Malley, Intercept Clinical Supervisor in Knoxville and former intern

Rebecca O'Malley at Knoxville's Biscuit Festival

Rebecca O’Malley at Knoxville’s Biscuit Festival

Take a peek at Rebecca O’Malley’s insightful look at her career with Youth Villages – her challenges and successes, love for Knoxville, and fun fact guaranteed to entertain on any car trip!

Meet Rebecca O’Malley, Clinical Supervisor with the Knoxville, TN Intercept program. Before becoming supervisor, Rebecca worked as a Family Intervention Specialist within Intercept and as a Clinical Assessor for the families the Intercept program serves. In college, she interned with Youth Villages’ Jackson, TN office, working with the Intercept, Transitional Living, and Foster Care programs.

What is your educational background?

I graduated from Union University with a Bachelor’s in Social Work and a Bachelor’s in English Literature.

What did you do before coming to Youth Villages?

Before coming to Youth Villages, I was very active as a college student in my community. I served with local relief organizations, the Salvation Army, and within my church, working predominantly with children and families in poverty. In addition, I completed my internship with Youth Villages (see above).

What do you love about your city? What do you do for fun?

Knoxville is full of culture and excitement, while not being so massive that I feel I’m lost within a crowd. There are always festivals, and every first Friday of the month, artists congregate downtown and display their works to the public. While Knoxville is known for its football, the University of Tennessee is not the only excitement it has going for it. My husband and I love living so close to the Smokies that we can take a day trip to hike up the mountains. Market Square is my favorite place to shop on a Saturday morning, perusing the Farmer’s Market and walking down Gay Street. And at night, the Square becomes a venue for live music, great food, and seasonal outdoor fare. Ijams Nature Center is another one of my favorites in the Spring and Summer. There are beautiful woody trails that take you to old caves, pass over the river, and even lead to a giant quarry where you can rent kayaks and canoes and make a day of it.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of work?

When I’m not lazy, I love to run and hike. I am a voracious reader when I make the time to do so, especially when it comes to Harry Potter. I love baking treats for my loved ones and firmly believe that chocolate can cure almost any ailment or calamity. I generally just love to be around people after work, if that means making dinner with friends or binge-watching Netflix on the couch.

What is your favorite part of your job?

I am a relational person by nature, so I love making connections with people in the field. I’ve discovered that my best moments in this job occur when I can reflect someone else’s importance to them. Whether that be a despondent parent that needs to recognize the value of the role they play in their kid’s life, a child that has been told that they are a failure beyond repair, a co-worker disparaged by the toll of the job, or a key player whose input is essential for the success of a case, I have the opportunity to let those individuals know that what they do every day is important. Many times, we meet families who are in the darkest seasons of their lives, and we have the honor of coming alongside them in those lowest points to bring interventions and support. It is an honor to be a part of a person’s life when they are ready to make changes and progress. Our mission is to help children and families live successfully, and while that looks different in every home, that starts with sharing stories and building bridges across the brokenness these families have experienced.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

I could name very few jobs that are more challenging than serving children and families who have experienced trauma, poverty, and the pain of having their families ripped apart. But within the job, the most challenging part for me is learning how to walk away from a situation, acknowledging that I have done everything possible and still accept the outcomes in spite of that. While I know that if I dwell on an outcome that was not ideal, I cannot best serve the other families and counselors on my load, it can still be very challenging to walk away confide

ntly when a child is removed or a family does not follow recommendations and feel that I have exhibited best practice.

What is one fun fact about you?

I entertain myself on car trips and in waiting rooms by counting up all the numbers I see on signs, books, and license plates and cast out nines. Casting out nines is the dumbest way to check if your math answers are correct, but the skill has not left me since I learned it in the fifth grade. Don’t ever learn it; it’s useless but will follow you everywhere.

Meet Jessica Goodwin-Royster, Clinical Supervisor in Knoxville

Meet Jessica Goodwin-Royster of Youth Villages’ Knoxville office. Jessica is a Clinical Supervisor for YVLifeSet (formerly Jessica Goodwin-RoysterTransitional Living) and was also a specialist in that program when she began her career at Youth Villages.

What is your educational background?

I have a Bachelor’s in Child and Family studies from UT Chattanooga and a Master’s in Child and Family Studies from UT Knoxville.

What did you do before coming to Youth Villages?

I worked at The Florence Crittenton Agency as a Community Family Intervention Specialist and I worked at a small agency called Foothills Care doing the same position.

What do you love about your city? What do you do for fun?

I love the combination of city and beautiful surroundings. There is so much to do outdoors here, but you don’t feel out in the country and cut off from city life. In the last few years, Knoxville has become much more of a “foodie” city and there is always a new restaurant to try. There are a number of music festivals here each year and numerous concerts each week. Since the downtown was revitalized it has become one of my favorite places, but also Outdoor Knox and all it offers is great in the warmer months.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of work?

I play a number of sports, some on teams and some just for fun. I love to watch sports as well. I love to travel whether it’s in my region or abroad. I’m a bit obsessed with the beach. And the regular stuff—spending time with friends and family.

What is your favorite part of your job?

I don’t know that I could narrow it down to one part of my job, but I love my team. The 5-6 ladies on my team are so dedicated and invested in the lives and successes of their youth, it is remarkable to be a part of. To see them make positive improvements to their youth’s lives every day is so rewarding to watch and know that I’ve played a part in that. I love developing new staff and helping them to hone their skills and eventually start to take on more leadership responsibilities. I also love getting out into the field and being able to work with youth one on one, to see each little thing that our front line staff do and how it can have such a monumental effect on this population. Just to have someone hold them to expectations and show that we have confidence in them can really change these youth’s lives.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

I think it may sound trite, but it’s difficult to see youth and staff not meet their potential. When you do everything you can, but they still can’t seem to get it is challenging. Also, working with and following protocols that are in place for good reason, but that can at times seem to slow progress or make thinking outside the box more difficult can be challenging.

What is one fun fact about you?

I don’t know if this is fun, but I’m a little psycho during college football season…like you may not want to sit next to me during a game, I get so into it!

Meet Sarah Joiner, Regional Supervisor for YVLifeSet

sarahs baby shower cake yvThe Chattanooga office hosted a surprise shower for Sarah Joiner, Regional Supervisor for YVLifeSet (formerly known as Transitional Living) for Youth Villages’ Knoxville and Chattanooga offices. Meet Sarah below:

What is your educational background?

I obtained my Bachelor’s degree at The University of Tennessee Knoxville in Child and Family Studies and obtained my Master’s degree at Walden University in Organizational Psychology and Development.

What did you do before coming to Youth Villages?

I worked as an intern at Knoxville Children’s Hospital while finishing up my Bachelor’s degree.

What do you love about your city/what do you do for fun in your city?

I love the family friendly atmosphere of my city and love to go to Market Square on weekends.

What are your hobbies/interests outside of work?

I work out with a personal trainer and currently a hobby is getting our baby room set up.

What is your favorite part about your job/about working for Youth Villages?Sarahs picture

My favorite part of my job is working with youth that age out of foster care to get them stable and living independently.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

The most challenging part of my job can be dealing with hard crisis situations.

What is one fun/interesting fact about you?

I am pregnant and very excited to welcome our baby girl to the world in May!

Community-Based Mental Health is Here and More Important Than Ever

Community-Based Mental Health is Here and More Important Than Ever | Glen Gaugh | LinkedInglen gaugh

Fear and guilt are the emotions Dr. Bruce Perry described after driving a patient and her family home on a cold day following a session in his office. As a fellow in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Chicago in 1987, he knew such intrusion into a patient’s life simply was not done. It took him two weeks to work up the nerve to confess his transgression. Suprisingly, his supervisor exclaimed, “Great! We should do home visits with all of our patients!” Then he wanted to hear more about this experience, which incidentally provided Dr. Perry with more insight into his patient than he ever could have obtained in the office.

The Shift to Community-Based Services

In adult mental health, case management has become crucial, as deinstitutionalization and state hospital closings have forced reintegration and reduced options for inpatient treatment. Case managers are highly involved in the patient’s day-to-day life, including multiple visits to the home in a week, helping with anything that would increase safety and stability in the community. Read more of this post

Meet Macy Collins, Family Intervention Specialist in Johnson City

Macy CollinsMeet Macy Collins, Youth Villages’ Family Intervention Specialist in Johnson City and consider joining her to make a difference in East Tennessee! Apply at http://www.youthvillages.org/jobs.

What is your educational background?

I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in social work in 2013 and also obtained my Master’s degree in social work at East Tennessee State University. In November, I obtained my LMSW.

What do you love about your city/what do you do for fun in your city?

I love this area because of the surprising diversity for its size. I love to meet new people and visit new places in the tri-cities area since I am not originally from here. I moved to the tri-cities area in 2011 for school and loved it so much that I stayed. Also, East Tennessee is beautiful and breathtaking!

What is your favorite part about working for Youth Villages?

I love working for YV because of the people from many walks of life that I have been able to work with. In addition, I love helping the children and families that I work with learn skills to live successfully. Also, my coworkers and supervisors are always helpful and ensure that I have additional support on a daily basis.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

The most challenging part of this position would be balancing the many roles we play in this job such as case manager, therapist, facilitator, mediator, etc.

What is one fun/interesting fact about you?

I love to visit new places and get t-shirts from popular restaurants/events there.

Meet Felicia Washington, Teacher at Youth Villages’ Dogwood Campus

Meet Felicia Washington, an energetic teacher that does not accept “no” at Youth Villages’ Dogwood Campus.Felicia Washington -- Teacher Spotlight

What was your educational/experience background before coming to Youth Villages?

Before coming to Youth Villages my teaching experience spans from Shelby County to Fayette County School districts.  I taught classes that range from inclusion to multiple handicap classes. I received my undergraduate degree in Business Administration. I have a Master’s in Education & Leadership from Bethel University, and as of May 2015, I am due to receive my Ed.S. in Curriculum & Instruction in Culture, Cognition and the Learning Process from Middle Tennessee State University.

What do you love about living in your town? What do you do for fun?

I have traveled both near and faraway, but at the end of the day there is no place like home (Memphis). Memphis has some of the best tourist attractions and history such as the Civil Rights Museum, Stax Museum, Pink Palace Museum, Gibson Guitar Museum, and our famous Memphis Zoo. Memphis is also known for fine cuisines and some of the best barbecue in the world. It is very affordable when it comes to cost of living with the option of big city living or the suburbs if you prefer.

For fun I like going to the movies, attending my favorite church NGIC,  shopping, volunteering at Youth Villages for various projects, shopping, traveling, and oh yeah going shopping!

What is the most challenging part of your job? Read more of this post

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