Streetwork’s Harlem Center: Welcome
"The reward is how you impact somebody's life in a positive way."
Streetwork’s drop-in centers in Harlem and on the Lower East Side open their doors to thousands of homeless and street-involved young people.
Carolyn Strudwick, Director of Clients Services, is often the first to greet them. "It is important that whoever is sitting here creates a sense of warmth, welcoming and safety," Carolyn says, leaning against the brightly colored front desk. "It’s about creating a nurturing environment."
Streetwork’s young clients often come into the center cold and hungry, tired and scared, especially if this is their first visit.
"We ask them if they are okay, that’s the first thing," says Carolyn, "If they seem uneasy, we might say, ‘Do you want me to call a counselor right now? Is there anything I can do?’ We make a connection. That’s the most important thing."
After checking in with Carolyn or another counselor, the next stop is up to the client they can go straight to the showers, stop by the computer lab to check out job postings, or head to a counseling room to speak with a case manager. They are empowered to make their own choices, to make decisions that meet their individual needs with Streetwork’s guidance and compassion, not with judgment.
For most youth, getting a hot plate of food from Michelle’s kitchen is their first priority. "I can’t tell you how many hard-to-reach young people I have engaged through that kitchen!" Carolyn laughs. Once you meet Streetwork’s Food Manager, you will know why.
Next stop: Streetwork's Kitchen.
Need help? Call Streetwork at 1.800.708.6600.
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