By Diane Holloway
The long month of August, when we are missing (really missing) our annual AmeriCorps member, has finally ended, and we are blessed with the arrival of Tess Bernhard. A spring graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., Tess is settling in and immersing herself in the chaotic joy of Trinity Center.
She has willingly tackled early morning kitchen duty and behind-the-desk mail and information duties. Soon she will also take on case management, helping some of our lucky neighbors work on important steps toward housing, employment and general well-being. Tess already is a presence on our staff, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome her into our Trinity Center family.
QUESTION: OK, we know you graduated from American University, but where are you from and what did you study?
TESS: I’m from Virginia — Arlington. And my degree is in public health.
QUESTION: What type of internships or jobs did you have in college?
TESS: I interned at Planned Parenthood.
QUESTION: Have you worked with people experiencing homelessness?
TESS: Yes, I’ve done volunteer work in this environment, so I have a sense of the people we serve.
QUESTION: AmeriCorps is a year-long commitment, with a good deal of sacrifice involved. What made you want to pursue this course after graduation?
TESS: I wanted to get a sense of this field of social work and what skills I could develop and how I could use my public health background. I guess I just wanted to figure out exactly what I want to pursue.
QUESTION: We — the Trinity Center staff — interviewed you by Skype, with all of us poking our faces into the screen to ask questions. What was your impression of that virtual meeting?
TESS: I really enjoyed talking with everybody and got a good feeling about how it might be. I thought I would probably be able to learn a lot from all of you.
QUESTION: You’ve only been here a short time, but what is your early impression of Trinity Center?
TESS: It’s really amazing to me that everyone knows everyone so well. There’s a sense of no separation between volunteers and interns and staff. It seems like a level playing field, and that’s a good environment for me. I like to have a friendly relationship with my coworkers and get to know them. And the neighbors are so appreciative of the services that are provided.
QUESTION: Fall is probably starting to show itself in D.C. right now, but we’re still battling heat. Is this your first experience with Texas?
TESS: No, I’ve been here before. My Mom’s family is from Corpus Christi, and I visited Austin when my cousins were a in grad school at UT.
QUESTION: OK, so you’ve been here a couple of weeks, and you’ve volunteered in a similar environment before, but this will be your first experience working one-on-one with clients, right? How does that feel? A welcome challenge or a nerve-racking one?
TESS: Right now there’s a lot of information that I haven’t put into practice, but I’m excited to learn the process of helping people with services and resources.
Welcome to Austin and Trinity Center, Tess! We are happy to have you with us!!