Joseph Gerena

“Wanting to give back and wanting to break cycles…of poverty, missed education, unemployment and other things that unfortunately negatively impact children, motivates me to do change.”

 

Interviewee: Joseph Gerena 

Interviewer: Mary Rose D., Grade 11

Interview Date: December 11, 2014

Interview Location: Italian Home for Children, Jamaica Plain, MA

Student Reflection:
 

Joseph Gerena started working at the Italian Home for Children this past October (2014). His mission is to help children with emotional challenges and frequently meets with people to get new ideas on how to help children overcome life-changing challenges. He does many different things to try to carry out this mission. For example, right now he and others are planning the stages of designing new services that they are going to offer in Boston Public Schools. Some of these services are after school therapeutic programs. The Italian Home for Children has after school programs that are available to other kids that are in the community. This offers a therapeutic environment, where children can color, play outside and do other activities.

One of the most compelling stories Mr. Gerena discussed concerned a friend of his who had spent time as a child at the Italian Home for Children. After learning about his friend’s childhood, Mr. Gerena setup a time for his friend to come back and reconnect with the Sister who cared for him while there. He was even able to see a picture of himself as a child at the Italian Home. For Mr. Gerena, this interaction showed him how much of an emotional bond is present between the children, the staff, and the physical Home itself.

 

“We need to learn just as much as the kids do.”

“Seeing a child go through a process of healing is an amazing experience and seeing that change can happen.”

“The idea that we can be a part of teaching parents the skills they need and helping kids to recover and reuniting families is the greatest achievement to have.”

“It is very motivating to do work that can help children grow, heal, and be hopeful for a future.”

“Wanting to give back and wanting to break cycles like cycles of poverty, missed education, unemployment and other things that unfortunately negatively impact children, motivates me to do change.”

“People respond to change differently but that is very normal. Some people welcome change and are very excited about getting a new outfit and then there are others where change is frightening. There is nothing wrong with either position and it is important to be supportive of people regardless of the category they are in.”

“Activism means working to create clarity and working to provide equal opportunities to everyone and getting up and doing something.”

“Activism is about righting things that are wrong and enabling all people to feel honored, loved, and respected.”