It takes a village to strengthen families
March 9, 2020
CO4Kids reached out to Warren Village and requested to feature an individual to highlight the role that they play in helping Colorado families thrive.
Warren Village uses a holistic approach to provide opportunities and resources to empower Colorado families. Warren Village's goal is to help low-income, single-parent families make the journey from poverty to self-sufficiency.
Meet Chelsie Lawson
What is your title and what are you responsible for at Warren Village?
I am a Family Advocate. I am responsible for supporting residents in attaining their self-sufficiency goals through motivational interviewing using a strength-based approach focused on empowerment.
What lead you to pursue this career path?
I have always had a passion for service and feel [dedicated to assisting] marginalized communities who, once empowered, can change the trajectory of their lives and the lives of their children. I have been fortunate to find a career and job that aligns with these values and the privilege to work with these families.
What role does Warren Village play in preventing child abuse and/or neglect?
By helping residents attain the resources they need to feed their families, be safely housed and secure, we are able to minimize the stress that often leads to abuse. Additionally, clients are equipped with educated family advocates who support clients with the challenges of parenthood. We offer life skills classes specifically related to child-rearing related issues. Lastly, we have an incredible relationship with the Tennyson Center, wherein therapists work with many of our families. Through offering psychoeducational counseling, support groups, parenting classes, and therapy for families and children, we hope to strengthen parents’ self-efficacy and knowledge of parenting to manage the difficulties of raising children.
Can you share a story of a family’s transformation that has really stuck with you?
I have been fortunate to know and be inspired by many of the families at Warren Village. One family that stands out to me is a family that came from homelessness to Warren Village. From the time that the mother moved her family into Warren Village to where she is now is inspiring. She stabilized her family, secured child care, and is going to school for paralegal studies. Through hard work and dedication, she is beginning to recognize just how strong, intelligent and capable she is. As a Native American woman, she is beginning to advocate for her community through public speaking events, educating her professors and staff, and is working to obtain her degree as a paralegal so that she can represent her community. Witnessing her transform from tentatively sharing her life experiences and cautiously engaging in our program to watching her flourish into a proud, confident and honest mother and woman has been incredible.
How would you describe a "typical" day at or with Warren Village?
A typical day at Warren Village is full of scheduled and unscheduled meetings. Walking into Warren Village, I may have 30 minutes to check my email and catch up with the individual needs of residents. Other times, I have a line of residents waiting to speak to me about various needs. The typical day is centered around resourcing residents with biopsychosocial supports so that residents can achieve their goals. This means that family advocates and family services staff are helping clients apply for benefits, explaining the benefits and process of receiving those benefits, and ensuring clients have food, clothes, and other basic needs for their apartment so that they can focus on their goals. After basic needs are established, family advocates work toward helping clients establish their short and long term education and career goals. This means conducting career development assessments and assisting clients in applying for educational programs. Through motivational interviewing and strength-based approaches, family advocates use the empowerment model as a framework to support the actualization of clients’ goals.
To experience the families grow and become closer and stronger together is unforgettable and a major driver to the work we do on the Family Services Team
What is one of your favorite stories or unforgettable experiences as an employee or individual at Warren Village?
There are many unforgettable experiences at Warren Village. I have been working at Warren Village since October 2015. Having kids that have lived at Warren Village move out and return to visit with excitement to share their lives is invaluable. Seeing the community of mothers grow close and lean on each other for advice and support is inspiring. To experience the families grow and become closer and stronger together is unforgettable and a major driver to the work we do on the Family Services Team.
What keeps you motivated on tough days?
We are inspired daily by the actions of our residents. Change is difficult; it is uncomfortable and it is scary. Knowing that change takes time and that resistance is normal helps me to have patience when I feel frustration or disappointment. Through acceptance and understanding, individuals are afforded the opportunity to safely explore change and make careful, long-lasting differences in their lives. I have had the privilege of working in the social work field for eight years. This has facilitated a deeper understanding that while I may not see the change, it is happening. I do not need to see it to believe in the process.
The Colorado Department of Human Services CO4Kids campaign encourages all Coloradans to strengthen families and communities. If you know of an organization or individual working to strengthen Colorado families and communities that would like to be highlighted, please reach out to Dianna Robinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn about the signs of child abuse and neglect and for information about how to become a foster or adoptive parent, visit CO4Kids.org. Call 844-CO-4-Kids to report concerns about child abuse and neglect. If a child or teen is in immediate danger, dial 9-1-1.