By Kayla Alsagoff, COC Community Development Intern
My final year of internships at the San Diego Military Family Collaborative and Healthy Start Military Family Resource Center has offered me a wide range of opportunities in the last five months. Coming in as an Administration/Community Development Social Work Masters student, I really didn’t know what I was getting into or what I was going to be doing. Would I be doing grant writing or program development? Community outreach and needs assessments? Financial planning or human resource management? Maybe I would engage in consensus organizing or community-based asset mapping. All I knew was I wanted to get as much as I could out of my placement in terms of skills development and exposure to the wide array of skills that macro social workers have.
Since then, I have done everything from building puppet stages for family appreciation nights to coordinating community dialogues with CEOs and Executive Directors from giant non-profits from across the county.
I have aided in the development of and facilitated spouse transition courses for active duty families heading into the civilian world and I have dressed up like a Disney Princess with my team to give our families the feeling that they are is Disneyland, somewhere they may never get to go.
Of all the things I have been able to do, the greatest one so far is co-coordinating Military Family Day 2014 at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center. Over the past year the San Diego Military Family Collaborative has been working with active duty military families on issues such as peer support and access to resources. As a city wide initiative, SDMFC partnered with the National Human Genome Research Institute and the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center at Balboa Park, San Diego, to put on a massive resource fair inside the museum. Built for kids and families, the museum was the perfect location to encourage active duty families to meet other families and build social support. In addition, my job was the coordinate 45 non-profits and for-profits across the county that specifically service military families to have vendor booths inside the museum during the day and set up to improve awareness of resources. The result was a free admission, free lunch, full day at the museum where over 750 service members and their families met other families, played in the museum, built connections and made referrals with dozens of social service agencies across San Diego County.
Although it is early in my career as a social worker, I know being a part of this project, a part of creating opportunities for families to meet their own needs, improving their social capital, and helping military families feel a brief sense of normalcy has been the single greatest experience I could have asked for, and I am so excited to see what else lies ahead.