First Week at Orchard Cove

My internship has begun at Orchard Cove, an independent living and enhanced living retirement community. Orchard Cove is part of the Hebrew Senior Life network. Orchard Cove empowers seniors to live healthy independent lives and honors the aim of the Massachusetts Coalition for Serious Illness Care to ensure that “delivery of care is aligned with values and preferences at all stages of life and all points of care”.  

At Orchard Cove, my internship involves working for The Vitalize 360 Program, a platform through which Vitalize coaches “elicit and document residents goals, values and preferences.” The way the program works is that a vitalize 360 coach meets with a resident twice to discuss the resident’s wellness, health, and quality of life. The coach helps the resident to set goals and then create an action plan, or vitality plan, to assist the resident in accomplishing his or her goals and pursue what matters most in their lives.

In first arriving at Orchard Cove, I was impressed by the beautiful facilities and friendly atmosphere. During my first week, my supervisor brought me to almost all of her meetings so I could get a grasp of what Vitalize 360 is all about and meet the Interdisciplinary Team members, all of whom support the best lives of the residents at Orchard Cove.

Front exterior of Orchard Cove

The first meeting I attended was on the topic of “What Matters Most.” What matters most (WMM) is a philosophy on which Vitalize 360 and Orchard Cove are built. It emphasizes the idea that residents should define what matters most to themselves and have conversations with their loved ones.

During our time together, the team reflected on the Second Annual Coalition Summit which included research presentations from Massachusetts Coalition for Serious Illness Care as well as personal experiences. The team discussed their thoughts on the conference and also talked about how it related to the idea of “What Matters Most.” A major aspect of the Coalition and Vitalize 360 is for individuals to get on their own personalized path to “What Matters Most.” With the goal of finding what matters most, individuals define their specific values and preferences, make sure those preferences are clear to loved ones, and create a health care proxy.

With another team member, I began brainstorming an art project for the kickoff WMM event Orchard Cove will be holding in June. I have also begun to support the team by helping to develop a “What Matters Most” tool box that will be used to support residents to articulate and capture what really matters in their lives.

Additionally, I have also supported the team by taking the lead on  administrative tasks, such as creating folders that contain important surveys and questionnaires used during Vitalize 360 evaluations with residents. I had the opportunity to sit in on a resident evaluation with my supervisor and vitalize 360 coach which provided a helpful perspective. My supervisor asked the resident questions about her life and interests. With help from the coach, the resident was able to determine what matters most to her, and create goals for herself to achieve what matters most. This plan is called a vitalize plan.

Vitalize 360 logo used on most documents for the program.

I also sat in on two meetings related to Vitalize 360 both led by my supervisor. At one meeting, my supervisor trained other staff members to become vitalize 360 coaches and at the other meeting, we discussed different residents and how the team can best support their vitalize plans. I was also able to learn how the Vitalize 360 online software works. In addition, I have done a lot of research on Vitalize 360 and other resources out there for seniors. I also had a chance to sit in on a laughter class led by one of the residents.

I am looking forward to really delving into the Vitalize 360 and What Matters Most Projects, work directly with residents, and see how the interdisciplinary team works to support the residents.

A Summer of Hope: Thoughts on Working at the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center

At the Esperanza, I enjoy not just working but living as a part of a community. Everything done here reflects the values of inclusion and community. One of the aspects of working at the Esperanza includes self-reliance. Since our community is predominantly working-class, many folks don’t have the privilege of paying someone for building maintenance. The interns spent a couple of weeks repainting walls after taking down an art exhibit. Everyone takes turn cleaning bathrooms or mopping before a performance, and we invite community members to help fold La Voz before mailing out the magazine.

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Photo courtesy of the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center. I’m on the scaffold.

As far as outside of the workplace, I already knew that San Antonio is extremely economically segregated, but my time at the Esperanza reminded me how true that is. Early on, the director and other staff members took us to different parts of town—Eastside near the Hayes Street Bride and the near Westside—to learn the history and conditions of people living them. Developers have started targeting the Westside, a predominantly Mexican/Mexican-American working-class side of town. Many cities have been hit with gentrification and displacement and San Antonio is no different.

Working in the real world back at home feels like more of a relief than working in college. Although I have to drive nearly everywhere I go (welcome to Texas), I know where I am and can often navigate without the assistance of GPS. My internship feels like a full time job, considering I spend more than forty hours a week at the Esperanza. More importantly, I feel like the work I do affects people other than those that live in a campus bubble.

One significant change is my outlook on meetings. This summer, I’ve observed city council, comprehensive planning, and housing bond committees.

Photo from The Rivard Report. That's me in the hat.
Photo from The Rivard Report. That’s me in the hat.

Many meetings I’ve attended in college revolve around planning events or discussing long-term organizing strategies. The meetings I’ve sat at (or spoken at in some cases) affect the lives of the over one million people living in San Antonio. It amazes me that policy can be decided in a simple conference room. For example, I recently attended two meetings surrounding San Antonio’s affordable housing bond. This bond had the potential to provide affordable housing and emergency repairs to families. At the meeting—in which the committee had to make draft recommendations for affordable housing—members were surprised to learn that they could not pass most of the policies for legal reasons.

Much of the work for SA Tomorrow involved reading, research, and coming up with creative solutions. One of the other interns majored in urban planning and environmental policy, so while she already had background education around sustainability, I have to read extra to understand some proposals in the works. Hopefully this extra work will pay off when studying for my environmental studies minor.  I’m also learning to take the initiative on certain projects. One of the interns and I are spearheading a social media campaign talking about water in San Antonio. This will build my social media skills, which I can transfer to campus organizing.

Anastasia Christilles, ’18

Social Justice WOW Fellow

Commission Update

The interns from the commission come from all kinds of backgrounds, some are local Rhode Islanders but there are quite a few out of staters or local students some in undergrad RI schools, and Law students. Everyone is very friendly and motivated to work.

My first few weeks were difficult, I had some struggles with my workload at the commission. There seems to be a high expectation of self sufficiency that I had conflicts with, for example Interns are responsible for reviewing cases of discrimination that are filed with the commission as they progress or reach a conclusion. This means that I can either receive a fresh new case that needs investigation or a case that has been going on for years and requires final review for closure. Whatever the case may be along the way interns are responsible for finding out what is missing in order to progress in the case and sending out those requests for information to all parties involved. We write our correspondence using few templates that are saved on USB drives and the rest comes through comes as you go through asking questions and getting exposure to legal language in your interactions with other investigators at the commission.

 

Interns also get access to what are called PDC’s, which refer to pre-determination conferences. PDC’s occur when an investigator is having difficulty reaching a recommendation as to whether or not there is sufficient evidence suggesting the legitimacy of the claims that the complainant alleges. All parties involved are invited to attend a hearing in which they can explain both sides of the story and it is the only time we get to meet the people involved in each case. I really enjoy the PDC’s because it brings each case to life and makes your work feel more validating. At the end of the PDC the commissioner usually stays for a few more minutes to give the interns law advice, for those who might be thinking of attending law school after college. There are about 10 commissioners appointed and so far I’ve met about 7. I find it interesting that some of the results of our involvement in these cases as interns will most likely never reach us seeing as they will outlive our internship stay.

 

The work can be very intimidating at first, but I noticed that the long work days provide interns with lots of practice and soon one gets used to the workload. It’s very reassuring when it comes to thinking of future work experience. For now it’s got me thinking of law school, since the majority of interns at the commission are currently enrolled in law programs.  Here’s a link to the commission website 

here’s also a link about attorney Cordona, an appointed commissioner who advised us about law school.

First Week at Centro Presente

Hi! My name is Ivonne Moreno and I am an intern at Centro Presente located in Somerville, MA. Centro Presente is a member-driven, state-wide, Latin American Immigrant organization dedicated to the self- sufficiency of the Latin American immigrant community of Massachusetts.  Centro Presente struggles for immigrant rights and for economic and social justice. Through the integration of community organizing, leadership development and basic services such as youth programs, adult education, and legal services, Centro Presente strives to give its member voice and build community power.

During this summer, I will be working in the legal department at Centro Presente, which provides legal services, educational trainings on immigrants’ rights to the Latino Community and works closely with politicians, religious groups and other community organization. This first week, we have been focusing on organizing the next educational training called “Citizenship Fair”, the main goal of which is to educate Latino immigrants that qualify for citizenship about the process of becoming a US citizen and the importance of voting.  My main responsibility has been getting in touch with immigrants who have come to the Centro and have said to be interested in becoming citizens and invite them to come to the next citizenship fair and how to sign up for the upcoming class to take the citizenship test.

One important event that has a big impact at Centro Presente has been President Obama’s announcement on June 15th giving opportunity to undocumented young people who qualify to obtain a two year permit to stay in the US legally and obtain a work permit to be able to work called deferred action. This announcement has been a joy and an achievement for the immigrant community and especially for those young people who have been in the United States since they were kids and have been unable to get jobs and go to college because of their immigrant status.  This week, we have been receiving a lot of calls from people asking about the deferred action and how they can apply if they qualify. In the weekly meeting staff, the Centro decided to do something like a forum and invite the community to give them all the information we have on the deferred action. I think it is very important to do since they are people who are trying to take advantage of this situation by asking people for money to apply for this permit when there is not even an application process and the ICE has 60 days to organize the application process.

In the weekly staff meeting, I was introduced to the people who work at the Centro Presente and the work they do. I was really impressed by the work they do and how passionate they are about fighting for the rights of the undocumented community. From this short period that I have been at Centro Presente, I feel that I will gain a deep understanding of the US immigration system as well as the many issues that undocumented people face in the United States. It has been great to also have a different working experience that I did not have the opportunity to get before.

– Ivonne Moreno ’13