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Motivated to help, White lives YV mission and values

March 25, 2011
 

Angela White, family intervention specialist in Youth Villages’ Atlanta, Ga., office, recounts a life-changing event as if it happened yesterday:

“Have you ever come home from an outing to find a 14-year-old girl sitting on the curb outside your home in the pouring rain, crying, with nowhere to go?” she said. “She was homeless, helpless and hopeless, and had no one to turn to? I have.”

That girl recently graduated high school and calls Angela mom. Now grown and out on her own, she regularly visits and claims Angela’s biological children as sisters and brothers. So this girl, Chiquita, is sitting in the rain because her mother was an addict and she’d lost a place to stay. Angela invited her in and promised to get help.

“The fear on her face left an impression on me that I have never forgotten,” she said.

Angela White, left, with Donald, Antoinette and Khadijah, one of the families who were in the Intercept intensive in-home services program in Georgia. The family was featured during Youth Villages’ national employee conference, and has been profiled in the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Angela tried for weeks to get help, and finding none, decided her home was the best place for Chiquita.

“I believed turning my back on this situation would have made me part of the problem,” she said. “I decided to be a part of the solution.”

Chiquita enlisted in the Army after staying with Angela’s family until she was 19. But just as she was helped, Chiquita also inspired Angela.

“The experience motivated me to pursue a career in social work,” she said. “It showed me how much dedicated people were needed who could commit to the preservation of life, family, children and human services.”

Angela joined Youth Villages in 2009, after spending time in Atlanta helping displaced survivors of Hurricane Katrina find resources.

Working for a program sponsored by such agencies as The United Way of Atlanta, The American Red Cross and the Pleasant Hill Community Center, Angela united family members and other survivors, and helped them transition to a new community. It established a framework for her work with families through Youth Villages’ Intercept intensive in-home services program.

“Angela is a very dedicated counselor and mentor in the office,” said Megan Nelson, clinical supervisor in Youth Villages’ Atlanta, Ga., office. “Her passion for her work at Youth Villages is evident in her tireless hours and commitment to her families. Angela’s personality is larger than life. It makes everyone want to get to know her.”

Angela recently participated in Youth Villages’ national employee conference as family intervention specialist to one of the families featured as a success story. There, the family and she recounted months of work required to reunite a father with his two daughters. But for Angela’s peers and families she works with in Atlanta, it was only a glimpse of what she does every day.

“Angela is a strong counselor and passionate individual,” said Jewell Gooding, clinical supervisor in Youth Villages’ Atlanta Intercept office. “She goes above and beyond for her families as well as the counselors on her team. Angela’s very involved with the key players on each of her cases and ensures safety as well as success for each of our families at Youth Villages.”

Angela’s in the right place. She believes she was born to help children and families. At home and at work, she lives her mission, and she can’t imagine doing anything else.

“When working with families, you have to take empathy to a whole new level,” she said. “I would do this for free. Being able to help children reunify with their family and live together successfully, and get paid, is more than I could ever hope for in a job.”

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