We Only Have What We Give

 

“We only have what we give”

 Isabel Allende.

If this is to be believed, then Community Partners’ Wraparound Case Manager Supervisor Jody is one of the wealthiest people on earth.

Two years ago, a referral came across her desk. The Vogels had just moved to Palm Beach County and 13-year-old Leni was having a hard time adjusting to her new school. She would lash out; get into fights with her classmates and single mother Mathilde was at a loss for what to do.

Jody first met the family of seven at their home and quickly formed a rapport with both Mom Mathilde and all six children.

“They were expecting someone who was the same as everyone else, but I wanted to prove to them that I was different. That Community Partners is different,” said Jody.

Relating her own personal experiences, Jody was able to form a strong bond of trust with Mathilde.

“She wanted what all good parents want – the best for her children,” Jody said. “She wanted them to do well and have a better life than she did. Mathilde wants her children to excel no matter what they do.”

While Jody’s connection to Mathilde was quickly forged, it took a little more time to win over Leni. She was a little more skeptical and a little more cynical than her mother and unsure if Jody was just going to be like every other case manager.

Jody worked diligently to prove otherwise - talking with Leni honestly and openly and really taking the time to forge a genuine connection and prove that she really was invested in the teenager’s future.

In addition to working to build a bond, Jody also started connecting the family to community resources. New in town, the Vogels weren’t really aware of all of the services available to them but Jody made sure to not only provide information but also serve as the family's voice until they understood that their own voice was powerful enough to advocate for themselves.

Eventually, Jody’s efforts extended to the rest of the family – Johanna, Ida, Pauline, Marlene and Maja – and in order to ensure that everyone’s needs would be met; Jody opted to engage the family in the Wraparound Process.

Meeting regularly with a team of therapists, the Vogels’s process might have been painstakingly slow and frustrating at times, but they never gave up. They wanted to change their odds and were dedicated to the process of doing so.

Once the assessments and evaluations were completed, both Jody and the Vogels learned a tremendous amount about themselves.

Marlene had a hard time adjusting to middle school but both her mother and Jody met with the school on a weekly basis to ensure she was on track. Initially, she was a candidate for a special education plan but thanks to Jody and Mathilde’s support and encouragement, it was deemed unnecessary.

Ida had been experimenting with illicit substances but gave them up and was able to obtain her own platoon in JROTC.

Pauline went to Job Corps and not only graduated from high school but also obtained her CMA certification.

Maja and Johanna also received recommendations for special education and have been working diligently towards academic excellence.

As for Leni, the daughter who initially connected Community Partners with the Vogels? She changed schools and it has made all the difference.

“Leni’s grades have skyrocketed,” said Jody. “She went from being behind in class to being ahead of all of her peers.”

The girls aren’t the only ones who have Changed The Odds. Mathilde’s experiences with Community Partners have also proven to be transformative.

“She gained knowledge of all of these great services and learned just how resourceful she can be,” Jody said.

Pauline, Ida and Leni were successfully discharged from the Wraparound Services program while Maja, Marlene and Johanna continued to work with a new case manager who has bonded just as closely with the family. Despite the change, the Vogels knew that they had found a friend and ally in Jody – someone they could trust and confide in. Someone who cared about them and would be there.

The family’s case was closed a few short months later and the Vogels were successfully discharged from Community Partners’ Wraparound Services Program.

Jody and the rest of the Wraparound Team still kept in touch with the family and earlier this year, discovered they had big news.

Seeking a fresh start and encouraged by the opportunities for affordable housing, the Vogels were moving to Gainesville, Florida.

Despite the fact that Community Partners is a Palm Beach County-based organization, Jody did what any of our case managers would do – she researched resources and services in Alachua County to ensure that when they arrived in their new home, the Vogels would have every opportunity for success, stability and self-sufficiency.

Saying goodbye was hard. The Vogels had really connected with Jody and both parties were sad to see the other go. They got together one final time to share memories, take pictures, laugh together and to reiterate that no matter what, Jody would be there for the family if they needed her. It was at the party that Leni admitted to Jody her thoughts on their first encounter:

“This lady is crazy, but I want to get to know her.”

The family also reflected on how wraparound services had really helped them as a family. It made them reflect on their experiences and actions. The work was hard but since they knew what they were striving towards, it was worth it.

As Jody waved goodbye one last time and drove away from the Vogels, she was filled with an irrepressible sense of pride at the family’s accomplishments, their dedication to Changing The Odds for themselves and she realized that experiences like this are why she does what she does.

“I miss them and will always believe in them,” she said. “This family helped me realize the true reason I love helping others. They’ve done so much and I will never forget them.