Since joining YouthConnect in 2016, Stephanie Salinas, Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW), has become a staunch advocate for her youth clients both in and out of the courtroom.
YouthConnect is BGCB’s advocacy and intervention program that helps the most at-risk young people make positive life choices through trusting relationships with skilled and compassionate social workers, such as Stephanie. Get to know her and YouthConnect in this month’s BGCB Employee Spotlight.
Hometown: Boston, MA
Favorite Food: Veggie pad Thai
Favorite Movie: “Hachi”
Last Book You Read: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Top Weekend Activity: Any outdoor activity — grilling, kayaking, sunbathing
Favorite Quote: “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” — Jane Goodall
In Her Own Words:
What has your path to your current role at BGCB looked like?
I started working with YouthConnect in June 2016, at the E-13 Jamaica Plain Police Station. I was there for almost 2 years and I absolutely loved the JP community. I got to know some truly awesome community partners that I stay in contact with to this day. Jamaica Plain is a predominately Latinx community, so I immediately felt connected to the families I served, and I felt fortunate that I was able to use my native language, Spanish, to provide support to families that often struggle accessing services and resources due to language barriers.
As I gained confidence in my clinical skills, I transitioned to the B-2 Roxbury Police Station. During this time, I was able to expanded my knowledge and experience with the juvenile justice and child welfare systems, as well as my ability to advocate for families in need. My time in B-2 pushed me out of my comfort zone and taught me to think “bigger picture” about what is going on in the community and how it impacts our clients and families, regardless of whether they were directly impacted or not.
In March 2019, I transitioned to a city-wide unit, Youth Violence Strike Force, also known as the “Gang Unit.” Aside from offering direct services to gang-involved youth and youth who are at risk of gang involvement, this position has allowed me to participate in meetings where we discuss trends and incidents of community violence and how we can work collectively to support the victims and families impacted by community violence.
This fall, I will be supervising a Master of Social Work (MSW) student, and I am really excited to learn and grow in this new role!
What is your favorite part of your job?
Hands down, it’s meeting with and talking to the kids that we serve. No matter how difficult it may be to build trust with some of them, even if it means showing up day in and day out to their schools, or showing up in court to let them know I’m there as a support, it always feels so rewarding when I know I’ve gained their trust. It doesn’t happen overnight, sometimes it takes years, but my love for this population is what allows me to have the patience and determination to not give up on them.
What do you like most about YouthConnect and BGCB?
I really appreciate the level of support that I receive from my colleagues and supervisors. YouthConnect is unique in that most of the team consists of licensed clinical social workers, so I feel fortunate that I’m able to reach out to anyone on my team for support. My family and friends respect the work that I do but don’t fully understand it, so I’m grateful that I am surrounded by colleagues who get it and can help me through the rough days.
We also do our best to prioritize self-care, such as check-ins during staff meeting, having self-care buddies, celebrating Social Work Month, and coming together for a holiday staff party. These efforts show that we matter too, and we cannot do this work if we aren’t taking care of ourselves. I’m grateful to work for a program that promotes and prioritizes employees’ mental health.
The mission of Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston is to help young people, especially those who need us most, build strong character and realize their full potential as responsible citizens and leaders. We do this by providing a safe haven filled with hope and opportunity, ongoing relationships with caring adults, and life-enhancing programs.