Black History Month Spotlight on Support Services!

Artboard 1 Announcements Featured Uncategorized
icon-clock February 25, 2022

Dear GCF Community,

In alignment with this year’s Black History Month theme of Black Health & Wellness, we are recognizing the important work that our Support Services team is carrying out at GCF, supporting Corps Members, alumni, and staff through training and development. Especially as continued challenges presented by the pandemic have deepened daily-felt systemic injustices for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities, it is crucial that physical, mental, and emotional health are prioritized. 

Taking this into consideration, GCF’s holistic approach to service, training, sustainability, and justice also extends to personal development, providing essential social-emotional support. GCF’s Director of Support Services, Felicia Prince, and Youth Development Social Worker, Giselle Birkett, share how they’re leading this work across the organization.

Felicia and Giselle, along with Master of Social Work (MSW) interns “who support expanding the scope of the work from the Corps Member and alumni perspective,” intentionally create “brave spaces that support both relationship-building and identifying strengths for both staff and Corps Members.”  Recently, this has included a Trauma-Informed Care Training with all GCF staff to help identify ways to build healthy, mindful relationships in the workplace as well as how to best empower our young leaders.  

A key piece of Support Services’ role is to “work in partnership with the Corps Members to address any barriers that are impacting our members throughout their service term. We identify their needs and work from a youth development/trauma-informed lens to support BIPOC youth in service to become better leaders and be empowered in their lived experiences. We also provide supportive counseling, case management, and referrals. And we curate and teach a curriculum called ‘Power Sessions,’ which is a holistic personal development training that is grounded in liberating young people to navigate systems and engage in both individual and collective healing to support community transformation.” 

Above: Giselle leading a session with Corps Members from Cohort 22 during Green City Academy.

Cohort 22 Corps Member Jakeem James reflects on how Support Services has affected him and his experience at GCF, “My time with the Support Services team was a big eye-opener, I learned the importance of holding yourself accountable, taking care of yourself, and showing up for yourself to take the information to help others. Showing up is 50% of the work and can get you really far. They showed me I could do a lot of great things.”

Kawon Veazy, another Cohort 22 Corps Member, also affirms the power of his experience, “My time with the Support Services team was incredible! It felt so natural and easy to talk to them about my barriers to service; It almost felt like talking to a friend. Big shout to Giselle and the team!”

Above: Giselle leading a session with Corps Members from Cohort 22 during Green City Academy.

Support Services’ work offers space for Corps Members to reflect on their truths and learn about the intersections of social and environmental injustice that impact themselves and their communities. As part of GCF’s ongoing commitment to Anti-Racism, Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity work, our Support Services team is indispensable in infusing trauma-informed practices, hope, and healing to create an inclusive and brave space for our young folks to learn and unlearn behaviors associated with bias, structural racism, and white supremacy. Reimagined monthly “Liberated Leader” workshops, led by Giselle and Service Coordinator, Justin Baker, take this key work to the next level. Support Services also helps to lead organization-wide, candid discussions around GCF’s progress and better frame actionable steps for authentic, everyday change. 

We know that true change starts with ourselves and happens most effectively when our bodies and minds are in a position to make those changes. We also know that health and wellness can take different forms and carry different meaning for everyone. Felicia shares that, for her, health and wellness mean, “listening to your body’s intuitive needs. It’s about quieting the mind to tap into what you need to fill your cup from moment to moment. Healing is imperative to the liberation and freedom from systems of oppression and it starts with SELF. Health and wellness are healing, and healing is choosing yourself every day so that you can show up for your community and the people you love.” 

Giselle says that, “Health and wellness, to me and my community, means being an active participant in the healing of self and supporting others in their healing journeys. It is cultivating brave spaces to destigmatize mental health and working in the community to recognize the importance of wealth. Health is wealth, which comes in the form of economic stability, being physically well, mental/emotional wellness, and recognizing how all of those components come together for Black Joy. Health is the connection of mind, body and spirit.”

They recommend these tips for helping to incorporate health and wellness into your routine on a daily basis. Giselle notes that, “Self-care is about building the little things that give you joy into your schedule when you’re ‘in the thick of it.’” Their work serves as a reminder to nourish our whole selves as well as our relationships to others.

We invite you to make time for yourself and keep these tips in mind, this month and beyond. A huge thank you to our Support Services team for providing such meaningful and comprehensive support to the GCF community. Your leadership is an incredibly valuable part of our collective work building resilient and sustainable communities.


In service and solidarity,