By Tiernan Seaver, COC Community Development Intern
My internship experience in the Community Development department at Casa Familiar has been nothing but enjoyable. From the first day staff welcomed me with open arms and made me feel a part of the team. The organization runs so many different programs, I still do not think I am aware of all of them. From aerobics classes to housing developments, it is impressive to see the inner workings of such a large agency.
Speaking of impressive, last week I got to experience Casa’s annual Thanksgiving dinner where they serve over 1,500 community members for free. In three sessions volunteers, from the likes of the San Ysidro School District Board President and policemen to high school students and boy scouts, bring plates of turkey, stuffing, and pie to tables where participants of Casa programs and their families are individually served. I appreciated the attention Casa put on making clients and community members feel welcomed and valued. The event resembles more of a large restaurant than a soup kitchen. Dinner guests are taken to their seats and served their dinner. Many people even dress up to attend the event.
Being a community development intern has pushed me into realms of work I never imagined. The situations I navigate on a daily basis are not with individual clients, but with City and County government departments, elected officials, grant administrators and agency coalitions. I’ve worked with designers and contractors to plan the redevelopment of a community park. I’ve helped provide community input on transportation development plans to the San Diego Regional Development Agency (SANDAG). I’ve advised a group of community volunteers on strategic planning and budgeting to increase the sustainability of their program after the end of their grant period. I am lucky to have had such opportunities to learn and grow here and I am getting a good idea of the value an MSW can add as a staff member in a non-traditional social work agency.