Catholic Charities West Michigan works to provide help and create hope to our clients in need and the Investing in Hope campaign is intended to raise awareness and funds for our vital programs in Muskegon. Please read our interview below with our Muskegon Child Welfare Program Manager, Ashley Donahue, about our foster care and adoption programs.
What do you wish people knew about Muskegon & the people here?
Muskegon is an awesome community-we have beautiful sights and it is a very unique place to live! The community and residents that live here are a great population of people. They are full of potential, perseverance and pride. I am so proud to be a resident of Muskegon county!
What about your clients makes them special to you?
Clients that we serve have a special place in my heart. I have met some amazing individuals that are facing one of the most difficult times in their lives. Many times, they have experienced generational hardships and they now have the chance to change their story. They are hardworking, resilient and just overall good people.
How has your role changed due to COVID-19?
I think the demand has changed dramatically since COVID hit. While, child welfare is a high stress job on a good day, throwing COVID into the mix just added a different and additional layer of complexity. Staff have had to become very creative in their methods of connecting with clients. We pride ourselves on being able to work with a diverse population and meeting individuals where they are at, regardless of where that might be and COVID changed what that looks like. We have had to be a lot more intentional on our communication with clients, as well as making sure they are navigating the pandemic stress and doing well within their own case.
Not only do we continue to ensure the safety of our staff through COVID but have the additional responsibility that we are keeping our kids and families safe and healthy as well. Parenting time visits, home visits, court hearings, etc. are all so different. Staff have done a great job being creative and ensuring that our relationships and interactions with those we serve are still successful, meaningful, and productive all while we are additionally ensuring that everyone is staying healthy and safe too.
How will the new Muskegon building help you better serve your clients?
The new building is going to be an amazing asset to our community! A building that we can be proud of to bring clients and community members to will be huge! The spaces that we will have to conduct meetings, trainings and visitations are going to be so important! One thing I am most excited for are our new visitation rooms. They will now have a two-way mirror, when currently, our staff have to sit in the room while parents are visiting with their children. With the two-way mirror, we are allowing parents to be more comfortable while interacting with their children, ensuring that they are being hands on and allowing a sense of privacy even though they are being supervised by our staff. It will be a lot more beneficial to have that separation and I am hoping that this will increase the ability for parents and children to bond and connect in a safe and healthy way.
To support our Muskegon child welfare programs, please visit ccwestmi.org/donate. All donations up to $50,000 will be doubled June 7-11!