It Takes a TWC Village
Written by Louise Bittout, Mireya Gutierrez, and MJ Johnson
The best-fitting word Rochelle and Daniel, our International Professionals Program (IPP) director and employment specialist, could find for Melissah, a participant from Haiti enrolled in the program was “an orbit.” The second Daniel said it, Rochelle completely understood without even needing an explanation. Melissah not only revolved around others and appeared ever-present in all conversations but people were drawn to her.
Melissah joined The Welcoming Center in January 2023 through our Intercultural Wellness Program, (IWP). She was in search of resources—meaningful support that could help her navigate the difficulties she was facing. However, her introduction to IWP was only the first step along her journey at The Welcoming Center. Melissah’s Welcoming Center journey is not an uncommon one. Immigrants hear about the organization, seek support, and find themselves becoming more deeply engaged not only with TWC, but within their larger communities. This integration is made possible through the radical support we offer to our participants, which is sustained, and highly individualized.
Each staff member needs to have a deep understanding of each other’s skill sets to better serve our participants. Finding staff who could continue to support Melissah came naturally and quickly. “I don’t think any one of us can do the type of work we do without reaching out to the people on our team,” Daniel says. Just one conversation that Manuel had with Melissah set off a chain reaction of support, career development, and connection.
Within a few months, she went from working in a low-paying job that did not match her expertise or career pathway to landing a position in the medical field, an already familiar occupation. This was achieved through Melissah’s personal determination and TWC’s unity. In order to properly invest in Melissah TWC not only had to work as a team but had to redefine what success meant. “I remember in our very first session I had to reassure her that this is a comfortable space where we’re going to learn more about each other, and we’re going to figure out what your needs are and how I can best help you,” Daniel explains “I could tell throughout working with her that that’s what she was able to find at The Welcoming Center, a space where she could be very comfortable and open.”
As time went on, Melissah built her assurance, pushed her peers to advocate for themselves, and nurtured her networking skills. She was able to identify and understand her capabilities and use them to push her career forward.
The word success was mentioned a lot when speaking about Melissah. Success is more than just getting a job – the transformation of confidence throughout her time at TWC proved to be her greatest achievement.