I interned at Avalon Center for Women and Children. Avalon is a domestic violence, sexual assault, and homelessness shelter located in Williamsburg, Virginia. Avalon also provides a residential program including the shelter, transitional housing, children’s services, and life skills development. Avalon’s Community Outreach Program includes counseling, legal advocacy, school based prevention, and advocacy workshops. While at Avalon I worked with the Project Manager on the school based prevention groups and the Senior Case Manger with her duties within the shelter.
I worked with Gary Baker on the school based prevention groups. This group explored social skills and mental health. The groups took place at Lafayette High School and Jamestown High School. Each group was made up of special needs students and students that had behavioral problems that are related to the topics brought up in the groups. The topics that were discussed in each group varied from social skills (how you address figures of authority, how to give a compliment etc) to mental health (how to improve your self esteem, how to recognize how you’re feeling). These topics included respect, self-esteem, boundaries, good touch/bad touch, feelings, laughing at others, and gossiping and rumors. Typically the topics would be explained, examples given and then the students would fill out worksheets or do some sort of activity to process the information.
The other half of my internship, and where I spent most of my time, was helping Kristin Sage, the senior case manager. Her role within Avalon was helping the residents get back on their feet. She was responsible for helping them find community services, jobs, apartments, medical care etc. I assisted in filing, data input, client follow-ups, and I observed her client meetings.
My internship with Avalon was very enlightening. Through the school groups I learned how to present sensitive information in such a way that you get the full message across and address the emotional issues that can arise with this sort of outreach education. Working in the shelter gave me a view of the types of challenges domestic violence survivors experience when they are trying to get back on their feet. It was a challenging but rewarding experience.