How did we end up with such a gifted, passionate team of neighbors for our program staff? It took almost fifteen years of intentional work to get where we are today.
At first glance, it could seem like we're incredibly lucky. There's some truth to that. Wanda's conviction and skill, Katie's insight and organization, Jeniffer's humor and compassion, Yoselin's creativity and warmth, and Joselyn's patient and tender care seem too good to all emerge from one little afterschool program in one little apartment complex in the northeast corner of Atlanta.
But the process of caring for them and equipping them to lead is intentional. We begin with the assumption that the children in our neighborhood are wonderfully made and filled with gifts that are waiting to be shared. Out of that basic belief, we make space, recognize gifts, and nourish each person to grow.
Making space for our students means welcoming them and helping them feel safe. It can take a traumatized child years to trust and open up to an adult. We offer welcome to our students, place them in a pod that will stay together throughout their journey at Presencia, and entrust them to the care of a mentor who will walk with them over the years. This stability forms a base from which our students can begin exploring and exercising their gifts.
Punishment erodes trust, so we approach problem solving in a more collaborative way. We believe in the giftedness of our students, so we work together with them to solve problems that arise. When our students act in ways that are hurtful or unhealthy, we collaborate with them and their parents to find root causes and offer solutions. This takes creativity, patience, and lots of communication.
This space creates the room our students need to begin recognizing their gifts and using them to care for our neighbors and neighborhood. Next week, we'll reflect more on how students grow into leadership roles and begin giving back.
Have a great weekend!
Co-founder, Development Director