Thursday, October 16, 2014

a unique situation

in my car where i spend a lot of my time 
Lately, my life has been pretty hectic.  From getting engaged, to planning a wedding, to starting a new job, and moving into a new place!  I got a new job about a month before I got married and this job has taught me so much - but it has also pushed me completely out of my comfort zone at times.  I know that those are the moments when we really learn and grow - but sometimes it can be stressful and overwhelming.  Let me start at the beginning...

For the past two years, my husband has worked for the Milestone Transitional Living Program.  It is a program for 18-22 year olds who are either homeless or exiting out of the foster care system and have no place to live.  The program helps them to gain employment, learn self-sufficiency skills, connect them to resources in the community, learn budgeting and other important life skills, help them get a drivers licence and other important things they might not have, and to teach them that they can have better lives and be able to have stability and independence.  My husband is the house manager & mentor for the men's house.  It is a house that can hold up to 5 guys at a time.  He loves working with this population and this job is giving him so much experience as he is trying to finish up his degree.  The Milestone program is part of Salt Lake County's Youth Services.  Here is a link if you would like to learn more about the program: Milestone Transitional Living Program .

Rewind to earlier this year as we were planning the wedding and getting everything ready.  Brian lives at the boy's house and so we had two choices:  1- Brian would quit his job and find somewhere else to work and we would move into a new place together or 2- We could figure out if there was a way for me to be able to live at the boy's milestone house until he was ready to move on to a new position. 

For the past few years, I have become very interested in the social work field and throughout most of my life, I have always had such a huge desire to help make others lives easier in any way that I can.  I have naturally been more interested in the addiction, eating disorder, body image/self-esteem types of jobs but was having trouble finding something I was qualified for since I still haven't been able to finish school because of having to drop-out so many times due to my deep struggle with anorexia.

So, when Brian's program manager approached me with the idea of having me work for the program as a way to make it easier legally for me to live at the boy's house with Brian, and also because at the time they didn't have a house manager/mentor for the girl's place.  It sounded like a good oppertunity to be able to help and reach out to others so I was excited for this new job position.  

The guy's place is a house and that is why Brian lives there, but the girl's place is a four-plex apartment complex.  There is 2 one bedrooms, and 2 double bedrooms.  So we can house 6 girls at a time.  So they don't have staff living there.  I know it isn't the ideal situation to be newly married and living where we work but we talked a lot about it and decided it was what we wanted to do.  I wanted Brian to be able to continue working here because he loves working with these young adults, it is giving him a lot experience for later in his career, and we would get free rent and be able to save a bunch of money for when we move out and into our own place.  We both are pretty easy going people that can adapt pretty well to change (well Brian is good at it, and I am getting better at it)  so even though we knew it might be a little difficult - we both felt like it would be the best choice.  We also knew that it would be temporary until Brian finds a better job.

My job duties are kind of complicated to try to explain but basically... I go out to the girls place every night (it's about 20 minutes away from the boys place/where I live) and I make sure everything is okay, rules are being followed, they have everything they need, ect.  I am also a mentor for them, so I am there if they need someone to talk to, if they need a ride somewhere, ect.  We also do a lot of service projects every month that Brian and I are in charge of taking them too and also helping with.  Brian does similar things at the boys place.  And since we live here, I usually help out with stuff at the boys place and Brian helps me out with the girls.  We work 7 days a week, and are on call most of the time.  That can be and IS stressful at times but the thing that helps is knowing that I get to spend most of my time with my husband and what could be better than working with your best friend!  And thankfully we are able to communicate pretty well and we also know when to give each other a little space if we are frustrated or stressed.  We also have meetings, trainings, phone calls, and other things throughout the week with the rest of the team which is the program director, program manager, the girls case manager, and the guy's case manager.  It's a small team and the job keeps us pretty busy every day but it's a job that needs to be done because these young adults deserve a chance at a better life.

Fast forward to 6 months later, and that's where we are today.  The past 6 months have been crazy, busy, stressful, challenging, but also exciting, full of learning, new experiences & loving married life!  This job has really pushed me out of my comfort zone which is good because that's the place where we are able to learn and grow - but it's also been really challenging because it's scary for me to be pushed so much and so far out of my comfort zone.  I have never worked with the young homeless population before and it's a really tough population to work with.  But it's also such an important one too!  To be able to see these young adults making steps and slowly starting to believe that they can have a better life and see their self-esteem and that hope inside of them starting to grow is such an amazing thing to be a part of.  And to know that we are able to be a part of that is really cool.  

But there are the challenging ones too that don't want to change or are not ready to change and that can be frustrating and hard.  But I just remind myself that in a way, it's kind of like how I was for a long time with my eating disorder.  For years and years people tried to help me, tried to show me a better way of life, tried to support me in my struggles but until I was ready to change - I stayed stuck in my cycle.  So I think that has helped me to be more understanding in this new job and to just know that however I can help them I will and with the ones who aren't ready to change, my hope is that we were able to show them at least a few things that they can keep with them so that when they are ready - they will have those skills and that belief inside themselves to help them with their journey.

  One thing that has been a little challenging is the fact that we live here.  Which means we rarely have time away from our job.  That has been difficult.  Especially being newly married because you want to be able to have that alone time and privacy.  We are able to find time for just the two of us, and I freaking LOVE being married to this amazing man... it's just hard to share him with all of these guys sometimes ;)


  1. Wow! Sounds like an incredibly challenging, rewarding, and fulfilling job. I can certainly understand how the work and living situation would be really tough to navigate, especially in that newlywed stage. I hope you guys are able to find a way to get some time just for the two of you! I'm glad you're so happy in your marriage though! That's wonderful!

  2. a huge amount of change going on there! Well done to you keeping it all together in the mist of all that lot.

    The programme sounds incredibly valuable too

  3. Congratulations on your wedding once again- your husband is a very lucky man indeed. Much love to you Jenn, you deserve everything good in this world.
    Your new job sounds really interesting (and something no doubt you would be amazing at) and I really think you have done a wonderful job of managing the challenges and stresses attached to the field and your current living situation. Well done to you sweetheart. Enjoy and thrive in married life (and life post ED - it makes everything extra special)! Best wishes always xoxo

  4. That is a unique situation! But you are performing a tremendous service for your community, and I want you to know that I have nothing but admiration for the work you and your You are such a strong, amazing person, Jenn. :)


  5. Your jobs sound like what I'm studying in my Community Mental Health class in grad school. Very cool, Jenn! It sounds incredibly fulfilling, albeit busy and stressful. I'm sure it's all going to be worth it. :)

  6. That's awesome! I didn't realize you had switched jobs. Love you!