Empowering youth: students work at local crisis shelter
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Two of Westmont’s fourth-year students, Jackie Cowin and Amanda Sutter, have been working at a local crisis center, Noah’s Anchorage, during their final semester, learning firsthand about the effects and implications of the foster system.
Noah’s Anchorage reaches out to youth and young adults between the ages of 10 and 17, providing a setting that fosters youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.
In her work with the organization, Cowin has been able to interact with the day-to-day realities of foster care, as well interact with family units outside the system who are in great need of support. Her experience at Noah’s Anchorage has built a beneficial base of knowledge and experience for Cowin. “I’m interested in educational advocacy for youth in foster care,” Cowin explained. “The educational rights of these children are often neglected.”
Upon graduating from Westmont in May, Cowin plans to pursue a joint masters in social work and juris doctorate, which would enable her to work as an attorney, social worker or counselor. She likes to borrow her ‘golden rule’ from John Wesley: “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can.”
Sutter has also enjoyed her opportunity to engage with the Santa Barbara community in a new way this semester. “I’ve been involved with Westside ministries for the last three years, but Noah’s Anchorage has been a comparatively unique experience,” Sutter said. She first became interested in the field through the sociology classes she was taking at Westmont. The classes piqued her interest in the cyclical nature of social problems.
“In my opinion, the best way to stop the cycle from continuing is to assist and empower youth,” Sutter asserted. Sutter appreciates the holistic approach Noah’s Anchorage takes by addressing issues on both individual and familial levels, providing access to education, therapists and other health professionals. Although she is not yet sure what profession she will pursue long-term, Sutter believes her experience has confirmed a desire to work with children and families.
Cowin’s and Sutter’s involvement with Noah’s Anchorage has included struggles and surprises that have contributed to their education and awareness of complex social issues. Their work is not without its challenges, among them the difficulty of parting with well-loved participants. But according to Cowin, “family reunification is amazingly rewarding work.”