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Tiffany Melendez on Working With High-Risk, Low-Income Communities

After graduating from the NECR program, I moved to Boston to work for an organization called Roca Inc. joining the job development team/program that concentrated on teaching youth how to obtain and maintain viable employment. I dove into curriculum building and created a conflict resolution workshop as well as a workshop called workforce communication. This was created to help young people develop skills to use when in difficult situations (conflict) while in the workplace. Programming focused on defining conflict, emotional intelligence, understanding workplace culture, self-awareness, and communication.

Following my work at Roca, I joined an AIDS service organization, AIDS Action Committee (AAC). At AAC, I was the Housing Resource Coordinator, which included networking and developing relationships with property managers to outline the the mutual benefit of collaboration between housing providers and social service agencies. Additionally, I researched trends and common practices in the affordable housing screening and application processes making recommendations within the current models. This work helped to increase the availability of affordable housing options for HIV and AIDS clients while also providing essential information on how to maintain housing once they had been accepted.

Currently, I am Assistant Director of Programs and Services at Respond Inc, a non-profit organization that provides education and support to survivors of domestic violence. Additionally, Respond Inc. oversees an emergency shelter program, a 24-hour hotline service, and various other programs. In my current role, I supervise case managers, volunteers, and interns on crisis management and facilitate the implementation of various systems and processes.

Within the past three years, I have been able to utilize my knowledge of program development, curriculum building, emotional intelligence, negotiation, and conflict resolution to incorporate them into different programs and services provided to high-risk, low-income individuals. Through these experiences, I have seen progress in the lives of these clients and have seen professional development in the staff that I have had the opportunity to train. It has been a humbling and inspirational journey, and I look forward to continuing to impact lives using the foundational principles that the NECR program instilled in me.