MAY’S WEDNESDAY NETWORK
Are You Sitting At The Table Or Watching
From The Sidelines?
The Wednesday NetWORK – Meet the new email newsletter from NSWM curated just for you the first Wednesday of every month.
In order to sit at the table, there are many things involved. We at NSWM want to help you get there whether it’s featuring organizations looking for top talent such as yourself or providing you resume and interviewing tips to get you the management job you desire. The NetWORK will be everything work-related from job posts to resources on making a first impression to career development.
For readers unfamiliar with Christie’s Place would you please take a few moments to describe the agency.
I would be pleased to introduce Christie’s Place to the newsletter’s readers. Christie’s Place is dedicated to the memory of Christie Milton-Torres, a loving wife, mother and daughter who was diagnosed with HIV 1985. By 1987, she had taken the lead in addressing HIV, becoming a tireless advocate for the needs of women, children and families impacted by HIV/AIDS. Before Christie died in 1994 due to AIDS related complications, she often discussed her dream of a safe haven for the people for whom she advocated. In April 1996, her parents, Irene and Doug Milton, made her dream a reality by founding Christie’s Place, where our mission is to empower clients to take charge of their health and wellness.
Since its founding, it has grown from a small grass-roots organization to a nationally recognized agency that provides comprehensive trauma-informed services, including case work, medical case management, peer navigation, mental health counseling, psycho-educational groups, and family events. Services are housed in our Coordinated Services Center (an actual house!), where clients can use a full service kitchen, a computer lab/resource center, a living room for visiting and relaxing; and where they can access basics needs services including emergency food and clothing assistance, monthly hygiene items provision, weekly fresh bread days, twice monthly fresh produce days, and Christie’s Closet, where clients can select from gently used casual and business clothing items. With a small staff as well as volunteer support, Christie’s Place clients can access a substantial range of services provided by expert staff and a network of collaborative partners that empower women and families to help themselves and each other.
What types of opportunities are available within your agency in terms of employment opportunities for human service professionals?
Christie’s Place, although a small agency (less than 20 employees), has positions that require a wide variety of education and experience levels. This provides opportunity for professional growth for those who are interested, and staff are supported in professional exploration and development. Our Executive Director, Erin Falvey, worked her way up from her original position of Clinical Manager. Sara Durán, our Program Manager, worked her way up after starting out as our Outreach Coordinator; I began as the Retention Coordinator and eventually became the Clinical Manager. Our first Early Intervention Services Associate developed this entry-level position to be a relevant role in meeting the needs of the community and a professional stepping-stone with significant potential for growth. This allowed her to grow into, and earn her promotion to Family Case Worker.
How is Christie’s Place distinguished from others?
In addition to being the only organization in San Diego whose mission is dedicated to serving women, children and families infected and affected by HIV/AIDS, Christie’s Place’s expertise and success in providing multidisciplinary trauma-informed treatment that integrates Peer Navigators has earned both local and national recognition. In the Office of National AIDS Policy’s (ONAP’s) December 2013 National HIV/AIDS Strategy Report, Christie’s Place is cited as an example of the Access to Care funded private-public partnerships “making a difference along the care continuum at the local level” highlighting that “Christie’s Place is focused on improving women’s access to and retention in comprehensive HIV care, with a particular focus on women of color.” In October 2014, ONAP released the White House Interagency Federal Working Group Update on Efforts to Address the Intersection of HIV/AIDS, Violence against Women and Girls, and Gender-Related Health Disparities. The report specifically recognized Christie’s Place as one of three organizations working to address the impact of trauma on women living with HIV.
In March 2015, our Executive Director, (then-Clinical Director) Dr. Erin Falvey was invited to speak about this work as a panelist for Stepping Out of the Shadows: HIV & Violence against Women and Girls at the White House Commemoration and Annual Observance of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Dr. Falvey was again invited by ONAP to present as a panel member for Successful Community and Federal Actions to Implement the National HIV/AIDS Strategy for Women & Girls at the June 15, 2016 ONAP event Implementing the National HIV/AIDS Strategy: Advances, Accomplishments & Future Actions for Women & Girls, held in conjunction with the United State of Women summit hosted by the White House Council on Women and Girls. The work we do to earn this recognition truly makes us stand out.
For those entering the job market what advice would you give them in terms of making a good impression and standing out from other applicants?
Research the agency to which you are applying. Reflect in your cover letter how your experience and professional interests are relevant to, and supportive of the agency, program and/or position for which you are applying. This research will also help you respond to questions knowledgeably in the event you are invited to interview. Submit a cover letter and résumé that are free of typos, spelling errors and grammar errors. Cover letters should be formal in tone, and customized for each job for which you apply. You have only seconds to make a good impression with the person reviewing your cover letter, who will reasonably assume that you are putting your best foot forward. If your cover letter is addressed to the wrong person or department, or is generic or casual on tone, if your cover letter and résumé have errors, they will not be placed in the “call for an interview” stack. These may seem like obvious ideas to some readers, but I have received numerous submissions over the years that are addressed incorrectly, full of errors, or read more like a text between BFFs than an effort to reflect an applicant’s interest in and qualifications for a position.
If you secure an interview, research the agency further. Be prepared to speak about topics such as your approach, philosophy, model(s) you utilize, and how your experiences, skills and knowledge are portable to the current job opportunity. Have examples of successes, special projects, and accomplishments at the ready. Have a few questions ready to ask the interviewer(s); reflect your interest in working for this agency.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about employment with Christie’s Place
Supporting staff is high priority. We provide and coordinate regular in-service trainings as well as ensure time for staff to access relevant external trainings to support expansion of knowledge and skills so staff can provide competent service and feel they are prepared to do so. Self-care is given explicit attention through our Wellness Committee’s education and activities as well as through our internal trainings. People are valued for what they bring to work each day; we invest in their potentiality and endeavor to provide an environment where they can explore and realize their own potentiality. On a personal note, I love my job. I like heading out the door in the morning to a place that is making a positive difference.
Have you ever utilized the Network for Social Work Management as a resource in the past?
a) If yes, how so? Did you find it effective?
b) If no, are you planning to do so in the future?
I am very new to NSWM, so I have not yet used the resources it makes available. I have perused the newsletter, blog and website, and definitely will be accessing NSWM as a resource in the future.
Would you like your organization to be featured in the next edition of the Wednesday NetWORK?