Posted tagged ‘care giver’

Mama Gwen Loves All The Homeless Children

July 2, 2008

STORIES FROM CARE GIVERS OF HOMELESS FORMER FOSTER CHILDREN:

Meet Gwendolyn Ross – Mama Gwen – Career Development Specialist – Covenant House New Jersey – Crisis Center

Everyone loves Mama Gwen. Former foster children, runaways, drug addicts, homeless kids, case workers, office staff, it doesn’t matter who you are, everyone loves Mama Gwen.

“Since I’ve been here,  I’ve been here eight years, and the students gave me a new name. They call me Mama Gwen.

I’ve asked some of them (homeless kids taken in at Covenant House) why do you wanna call me Mama Gwen?”

The students are quick to answer.

“Mama Gwen, you can take the place of a mother to us.

A lot of people never had a mother figure in their life and people see you as
that person. I’ve grown to know you and have major respect for you. You treat me just as my mother would treat me, with respect. I honor you. Like I really do bow down to you. You are Mama Gwen, you deserve that name.

You show love to everybody,” one of the girls said.

Mama Gwen greets everyone she passes by but make no mistake about it, Mama Gwen’s no push over. Tell Mama Gwen the truth and all will be good. Lie to Mama Gwen and she’ll call you into line. She’s there to help the kids, help them find employment, follow up when they don’t show up for work, teach them how to dress for an interview, build their self respect and that’s only the beginning of what Mama Gwen does for these kids.

“Yes we’re here to teach job readiness skills but most important are life skills, how you can survive out there. Social skills, how you can take directives from your employer because sometimes we’re so angry inside we don’t even want to hear the employer tell us ok, right now you’re not busy so we need you to go over there and sweep.” She belts out a big, “SWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP, what you talking about sweep? I didn’t get hired to sweep no floors!”, mimicking the kids.

“I really wanted a lot of kids but I only had one. But I didn’t know that there was a plan that I would have 45. So I have a lot of kids in this world and we are all family. That’s how we work together. Family have to reach out to one another and help each other grow and develop. Don’t you think you can’t teach me,” she says lovingly.

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Care Givers, Covenant House – Miss Janette “Trash Cans Are For Trash”

June 25, 2008

STORIES FROM CARE GIVERS OF HOMELESS FORMER FOSTER CHILDREN:

Meet Janette Scrozzo, Outreach Liaison, Covenant House New Jersey – Crisis Center

Covenant House New Jersey Outreach Liaison Janette Scrozzo

“We house 45 young people from the ages of 18-22. Our kids come through our door, a lot of them aged out DYFS kids, they come from sexually abused and physically abused homes situations. Many of our kids are gang affiliated.”

“They come to us because they have no place else to go so our doors are open 24/7.”

“We provide them with the immediacy, food, shelter, clothing.”

As Janette walks through the halls of Covenant House’s Crisis Center she greets the kids with the love of a mother giving them hugs and encouragement but also dispensing discipline, “No do-rags inside. You know the rules. Pull your pants up, respect yourself.” She turns to me, “We treat them with respect but they have to learn to respect themselves as well. Only then will others show them respect.”

I know they go back to doing what they want when I walk away but they have to learn. “Get off the garbage can. Garbage cans are for garbage. You’re not garbage. Get off the garbage can.”