West Ward Victim Outreach Services: Newark, NJ

Interview with Priscilla Partlow, Project Coordinator

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Briefly describe your program and the population that it serves. 
 
The West Ward Victims Outreach Services program provides trauma support services to young men of color ages 18-30 in Newark’s West Ward who have been impacted by trauma and victimization. Support services include mental health counselling, housing assistance, social services, legal aid, crime victim compensation assistance, and job readiness training. 
 
What have you found to be the biggest need for this population and how has your program addressed that need? 
The population of young men that we work with requires a great deal of help and support; however, the need that has stood out the most to us is job readiness. Many of the young men need a job but do not have the skills necessary to obtain and keep a job. Often times, they’ve never had a job and don’t have a proper identification or a resume. We work with our program participants to develop their job readiness skills in order to prepare them for the workforce. We help them to write a resume and serve as a reference for when they begin to seek employment. 

What are you proudest of regarding your work through the SMSV grant? 
When some of our participants come through our doors they are reluctant to engage with our team and share their trauma history. We understand that seeking help is not easy for our young men so we work diligently with them to build mutual trust and respect. It is extremely rewarding for our team when we achieve a breakthrough and participants begin to open up and allow us to provide support to address their trauma and any other needs they may have. 
 
What new relationship or resource have you found to help move your work forward?
The Newark Street Academy has been a huge partner for us. The Newark Street Academy provides GED support services to young people up to age 24. Program participants engage in a full school curriculum that prepares them to take and pass the GED exam. Participants are also paid a $10 per hour stipend while they are engaged with the program.  
 
In addition to GED services, the Newark Street Academy also helps participants get exposed to the broader community. Program staff takes participants to museums, sporting events, and other community events. 
 
FP YouthOutcry has also been a great partner for us. FP Youthoutcry provides therapy through the arts. Program participants enjoy working with this organization. 
 
What is something positive a client or partner said about your work related to the SMSV grant?
Participants consistently express how glad they are to have someone in their life that is reliable and supportive. This means a lot to our team because we know that a lot of young men in our community need someone in their life that they can count on. 
 
What have you learned that you will carry with you as you continue this work? 
Consistency! Consistency is very important in this work and can make or break the relationships you develop. It is difficult to build trust but it is easy to lose it so it’s important to be consistent and not make promises you can’t keep.