In much the same way that the people who come to work for BronxWorks select for themselves the higher needs of purpose and mission, young people choose to join the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC). Jesuit Volunteers commit a year to provide services and live in local communities, followed often by a lifetime dedicated to building a more just and equitable world. For many years, BronxWorks has shared a partnership with JVC that has brought some of the most dedicated, long-standing, and mission-driven staff members to the benefit of our programs and participants.
Like her predecessors, Marina Weiss started at BronxWorks as a JV, and like many of them, her year in the Corps was just the beginning. Marina grew up in California, moving to Washington DC to attend Georgetown University as an undergrad. She majored in Global Health and Urban Studies and graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree in 2018. Right out of college, Marina joined JVC who sponsored her employment at BronxWorks as well as her move to New York City. During her first year, she lived in the JVC house in Harlem with eight other volunteers.
At BronxWorks, she got her start as a Program Specialist with the Community Health Programs, where she helped organize programming, like Teen Battle Chef, community gardens, food justice classes with our Cornerstone participants, and of course, the yearly farm stands. In 2019, after completing her year as a Jesuit Volunteer, Marina stayed at BronxWorks to join the newly-opened Cooper Gardens Supportive Housing Program as a Case Manager. At Cooper Gardens, Marina helped individuals and families move from the shelter system into permanent housing and provided them with the resources and support they may need to remain stably-housed. In 2021, Marina would take her experience from Cooper Gardens to another brand new supportive housing program as one of the first three staff members at Park Haven.
Apartment viewings are one of my favorite parts of the job – being there for people’s first viewing, seeing how they can envision a future for themselves and their families in their permanent home.”
Now, Marina is the Program Coordinator at Park Haven. While no longer a Case Manager, Marina continues to carry a caseload of 4 adults and 2 families. She focuses more on administrative and programmatic functions, like collecting data and reporting on impact to funders; organizing onsite activities and events, holidays and celebrations, knitting, group work, peer led meetings; running the medication monitoring program, training staff in medication monitoring; collaborating with a team of 7 staff to support over 50 adults and families with children. It goes on.
I love that the job is building a community with people. The people we work with have all experienced homelessness – that is the only thing they share in common – but in every other way, they come from different backgrounds. I learn a lot from my coworkers, but also from the clients. We all learn a lot from each other.”
For the second time in New York City, Marina has volunteered for the HOPE Count, on top of volunteering three times for the HOPE Count in Washington DC. She thinks it is important that the data from the HOPE Count help us best determine what resources are needed to support the people living on the street. Also this year, Marina will be riding for a second time in support of BronxWorks in the TD Bank Five Boro Bike Tour in May. She is also in her fourth semester toward her Master’s Degree in Social Work from Columbia University. Outside of work, Marina is learning to knit. She spends a lot of time with friends and her cats, Zora and Neale. And she bikes everywhere, including to and from work, and on the weekends for exercise.