“I hear sad stories. I’m glad to lend a hand.”

Vivian Rosario, Family Assistant, Board of Education Employees Local 372

Photo: Clarence Elie-Rivera

At the shelters, we have people from all over the city and from all over the country and some undocumented people too.

I think that’s because the services we provide for homeless people in New York City are very good.

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People want to blame Mayor de Blasio for the increase in homelessness, but I think the services we provide has something to do with it. People know in New York; they can get help, so they come here.

I work for the Dept. of Education and I’m assigned to two shelters, the Concourse Residence and the Fordham Family Residence in the Bronx.

As a Family Assistant, I’m responsible for working with the children and assisting with their educational needs.
We have kids attending school from pre-K to seniors in high school. I make sure they have transportation to and from school, apply for Metro Cards for them, purchase school uniforms if their school requires them, schedule eye exams. I also monitor their attendance.

The parents are more concerned with resolving their housing issue, so school might not be that important. The older kids go to school on their own, but the younger ones depend more on their parents.

Families can stay in the shelter from a couple of weeks to a year. I’ve noticed a lot of generational poverty among the families, so they stay in the system longer.

I hear some sad stories. I’m glad I’m able to lend a hand.

I’m almost finished my degree in liberal arts and social science from the College of New Rochelle. I want to continue for a master’s degree in social work or counseling.

This originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of Public Employee Press.

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