Fina House: Week 1

This summer I am interning at the YWCA Fina House in Lawrence, MA. The Fina House was opened in 2005 and houses low-income individuals, teen mothers, and homeless domestic violence survivors. The mission of the YWCA is to eliminate racism and empower women.  Being an Hispanic woman myself I share this goal. Initially I heard about Fina House from a friend who had wanted to volunteer there. I contacted different members until I was finally able to discuss the idea of a potential internship with the co-director of Women’s Services. The process went smoothly, they had had other interns before, and I was more than willing to partake in this experience.

My employment officially began on June 10th. I will be working on two separate projects; one with the Family Counselor on the Child Advocacy Project (CAP) and the other with TPP (Teen Parenting Program). Part of the mission of the Child Advocacy Project is “to assist victims and their families to stabilize, initiate healing from trauma, and take steps to seek justice”. The children in the CAP are victims of sexual abuse or rape; there are 12 kids currently in the program. We are reaching out to collaborate with local programs to establish a recreational activity for the kids to get involved with. The Teen Parenting Program focuses on empowering young women through self-esteem/financial workshops to help them become economically/emotionally independent. I have been assigned to host workshops with the 8 young women twice a week. One day will be geared towards Preparing Adolescents for Young Adulthood (PAYA) and the other will be an active workshop in which we will focus on their health by doing physical activities.

All of this seemed quite overwhelming at first, but the staff at Fina have been extremely helpful and welcoming. On my first day on the job I went with a staff member to the YWCA in the nearby town of Haverhill. The staff member and another colleague were hosting a presentation on domestic violence. It was an eye opening experience witnessing the impact that their words had on the audience. One young female sitting in the crowd sobbed quietly. After the presentation, both YWCA employees went to the young girl and offered their services to help in whatever situation she might be going through.

My experience with Fina so far has been warm and positive; this week I will begin to instruct the TPP girls with the PAYA material. I chose to begin with Personal Care, Health, Social Skills, and Safety (the basics, and we can dive into the more difficult topics later on).

I feel very honored to be working with a group of determined, strong women helping other women become self sufficient and empowered. My career plans are to involve myself with non-profits and gain experience and knowledge on how to effectively provide the most help to individuals. Working at Fina House will be an important step in helping me accomplish my goals and I am sure that I will develop more goals throughout the summer.

Side View of Fina House
Side View of Fina House
The Mission of the YWCA & also Mine
The Mission of the YWCA & also mine

– Daniela Ayala ’15

2 thoughts on “Fina House: Week 1”

  1. Hi Daniela,

    The YWCA Fina House sounds like a great organization. I admire your persistence in securing a summer internship for yourself. It underscores your passion for the work Fina House does.

    The projects you are working on both seem difficult and quite heavy with emotion from hearing such difficult stories – but very important. Just as you are helping to empower the girls, you must be having a powerful experience yourself. The staff also sounds like they are providing you with the support you need to run the programs most effectively. What are the other topics you plan to cover with the TPP girls throughout the summer? Do you think you will continue to work with Fina during the school year as a volunteer?

    Looking forward to hearing more!
    Zoe Richman

  2. Hey Zoe,

    Throughout the summer i continued using PAYA as a guideline for the workshops but I digressed further along with my own topics of interest. I would bring up issues more personal to them such as, stereotypical views of hispanic women in the media as well as in society. I would use any type of material I found online or had previously used in classes here at Brandeis. Most of the young women preferred watching videos online that would help initiate the dialogue. Towards the end of my internship I created a portfolio of some of the material I covered for future interns to use. I am hoping to keep in touch with Fina house and possibly volunteer next summer as well.


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