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Staff Profile: Yvette Felicia Thomas

Yvette Felicia Thomas ("Felicia") has supported marginalized populations for her entire career. In 2008, she began her current role as Program Coordinator at the BronxWorks Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC) at the Roberto Clemente Senior Services Office. According to the New York City Department for the Aging, "A NORC is a multi-age housing development or neighborhood that was not originally built for seniors but that now is home to a significant number of older persons." Many seniors who reside in NORCs need assistance with day-to-day tasks as they grow older in their homes. 

As Program Coordinator, Felicia serves as an advocate for her program participants who may need assistance with Medicaid, Medicare, building management issues (most of the participants live in the adjacent housing complexes), banking issues, and more. Felicia meets with the seniors on an individual basis and leads group sessions displayed on a detailed calendar she posts every month. Topics include nutrition, arts and crafts (looming, crochet, quilt-making), board games, and mindfulness. 

The program participants have the opportunity to go on trips once a month. In addition to going shopping for everyday items, the seniors see Broadway plays and visit nearby destinations, such as Atlantic City. "I do my best to keep the seniors mentally stimulated," Felicia said. On any given day, Felicia works with approximately 40-50 seniors, and 168 seniors are on her roster.

Prior to working at BronxWorks, Felicia was a legal secretary at an agency that supported individuals with substance abuse issues. After witnessing firsthand the impact substance abuse had on her community, she decided to learn more and earned a certification at the National Recovery Institute (NRI). After working as a Case Manager at Bronx AIDS Services in the 1990s, Felicia began working at BronxWorks. She helped develop a program for families affected by HIV/AIDS within the Agency's Positive Living Department, which serves people living with chronic illnesses. 

More recently, Felicia is especially proud that at age 50, she earned her bachelor's degree in Social Work. She plans to continue her studies and attend Fordham University's Graduate School of Social Service. A self-described "social butterfly," Felicia is grateful for the daily interactions she has with the seniors. With her dedication and the support of the NORC, the seniors can age in place and continue to live in their homes. 

"BronxWorks has allowed me to work with populations that have been disenfranchised. I've had the chance to bring my creative juices and ideas to these communities, and to shape a program which encourages people to flourish," Felicia said. 

In 2016, Felicia received the 29th Senate District Women of Distinction Award from New York State Senator Jose M. Serrano, recognizing her decades of service in social work.

Felicia lives in Harlem, where she was born and raised. When she's not at BronxWorks, she enjoys reading, singing, and going to church.

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