At The Child Center of NY, adversity is often transformed into success, and individual talents contribute to powerful teams. Young people who benefit from our programs as children grow up to become driven staff, old friends are recruited to help on projects, and, as exemplified by Yessenia Rodriguez, parents take on roles in their children’s school programs and end up “on the other side,” helping Child Center families as staff themselves.
Yessie, as she’s known by friends and colleagues, started her career with The Child Center when her now-seventeen year old son David, a recent high school graduate, was in Head Start. She began as a volunteer and was elected as Vice Chair of the Head Start Advisory Board; about a year later, she was hired as an assistant teacher. Not long after that, Yessie became a family worker, serving eight years doing intakes and program management.
Since 2011, Yessie has worked in Prevention, splitting her time between Flushing and Elmhurst as a Family Treatment and Rehabilitation Program case aide and serving as a backup on hundreds of cases managed by her colleagues. Recently, she was recognized for her substantial contribution to the agency, named as a Runner-Up for the Russell L. Carson Visionary Award.
“I have loved this job, because I’m really ‘in it.’ Before, I was making the referrals, but now I’m going into homes and offering direct support to the families, who feel comfortable with me and request me. When they’re in crisis, they need stability. I provide that,” she said.
And while hard at work for The Child Center, Yessie raised four sons and managed to earn two degrees, the latest a Master’s in Social Work. She hopes to continue growing within the agency, which she credits with changing her life.
“The staff and administration at The Child Center have a unique methodology of recognizing strengths, hiring people with potential and then training and molding them. I was also fortunate to receive 1199 funds toward my degree and the support to maintain a flexible schedule that allowed me to attend classes.”
Said Elmhurst Family Center Program Director Yolanda Vega, “I’ve known Yessie since she was a parent volunteer. Just as she became empowered to be more involved in her son’s education, she has, over the years, encouraged countless other parents to do the same. She is a role model to the Latino community we serve and to Child Center staff.”