A job is just a piece of the solution

One afternoon recently we received a frantic telephone call from a Vogel mom.  She was at her brand new job, a job that pays better than minimum wage and could be the start of better things for her and her 4-year-old daughter.  This job, combined with support from her housing program and Vogel Alcove, could be her ticket to re-establishing herself with self-sufficiency and independence.

A few hours into day one, however, things started to unravel.   The person scheduled to replace our mom at the end of her shift did not show up.  Her new boss informed her that she was not allowed to leave until a replacement could be found.  By 5:00 p.m. she knew that she would not be able to make it to Vogel Alcove by 6:00 p.m. close of business, given the bus and train schedule with which she had to contend.  She telephoned every 10 to 20 minutes, each time apologizing profusely.  She couldn’t believe that her first day on the job she was faced with possibly losing a job or losing childcare.  We offered support and reminded her that she was a part of Vogel’s family.

Finally she walked in the door at 7:00 p.m.  We reassured the parent that we understood and we thanked her for staying in touch as she journeyed toward us.  She and her daughter were re-united, given a snack for their train ride home, and walked out the door.  The closing teacher and I walked to our cars, our long day at an end.  As I got into my relatively new, entirely reliable car and drove down Gano Street, I passed this mom and her daughter as they walked to the train.  My day was over; they were beginning the next phase of theirs — a walk of several blocks to the train, a train ride, then two busses.  By the time they got off the bus and started the walk to their transitional housing program apartment, I would be washing up after my dinner.  Viewed from another perspective, they would be walking in their door at least an hour past the time I would have put my own 4-year-olds to bed so many years ago.

A job is a good thing, a much desired, essential step toward self-sufficiency.  But for a little family struggling with homelessness, it brings complications as well as hope for the future.  And without the support of child care/child development services provided at no cost, this new job, with all its complications, would be out of reach for this parent.  Closing time reminds me to be grateful to be part of Vogel Alcove and fills me with admiration for the perseverance and courage of our families.

This year the Celanese Foundation gave $30,000 to Vogel Alcove to help provide the youngest children of homeless families with the foundation for success. To follow Vogel Alcove on Twitter, visit https://twitter.com/VogelAlcove. For more about the Celanese Foundation, visit http://foundation.celanese.com/.

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About the author


Lynn McPherson Cearley is the Director of Family Support at Vogel Alcove. She is a licensed clinical social worker who has worked with at risk children in the context of their families in a variety of settings including child protection, juvenile justice, community mental health, and pediatric psychiatry. At Vogel Alcove she supervises a staff of social workers who provide case management, parenting support, and mental health services to parents and children affected by homelessness.

There are 2 comments. Add yours.

  1. Peter Xie says:

    Thank you so much for the touching and moving account, Lynn! I appreciate the positive impact you and the Celanese Foundation are having on this family, the smallest cell of the society we all live in. Thank you!!

  2. Margie Dolch says:

    Hi Lynn,
    Thank you for sharing this perspective with us. As many of our days come to an end, it is a humble reminder of the challenges others are just beginning to face. We appreciate all the hard work Vogel Alcove teachers and staff do to go above and beyond your job responsibilities to cultivate an atmosphere of care and support for those who need it most.

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