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Monday, June 13, 2011

STARS Success Story: Advocating for Employment Opportunities

"Trina" first came to the Bronx Community Solutions office last August, just ten days after her 20th birthday.  Even at that young age, she was one of the most  challenging clients for the STARS Advocate/Counselor:   She had initially been mandated to complete ten sessions, and was then re-arrested within a month of starting the mandate, which increased her court obligation by another 10 days.   Reticent? Yes, at first. Then Trina began to open up and tell the Advocate/Counselor the most intimate details of her life which was full of traumatic events, including childhood sexual abuse, being an adolescent run-away, being placed in a  residential youth center.and then ending up with an older man who became her boyfriend and, later, her pimp. Leaving her presently with no high school education, no family to turn to, and no way to support herself.

During our time together, Trina began the emotional work that helped her begin to heal from a lifetime of trauma and the practical work that helped her gain admittance and complete a home health aide training course.  Trina's future suddenly seemed brighter. She now had a training certificate under her belt that would allow her to pursue legitimate employment.  However, a huge step backwards came in the form of a letter from the Department of Health (DOH) stating that she would not be eligible to work as a home health aide due to her criminal history of prostitution.  With the help of Sanctuary for Families' Legal Center and Bronx Community Solutions, Trina and the Advocate/Counselor pulled together a response to the DOH and won a huge victory when they reversed their decision and reinstated her eligibility to work.

Although finished with her court mandate, Trina continues to come in to see the Advocate/Counselor on a regular basis for counseling and for help thinking through the world of opportunities she now sees laid out before her.

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