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  • Writer's pictureNetwork Connect

Meet Kalena: A CWA Superstar

Network Connect intern, Nevaeh Bass, sits down with Kalena, our Dover CWA coordinator to ask her about her accomplishments as both a former CWA and as a coordinator.

Nevaeh: “Good Afternoon Kalena! I hope your day is going well today can you start by telling me a little bit about your background and how you became a CWA?”

Kalena: “Good Afternoon! Yes. So um, I graduated from Hampton University in 2020 with my degree in psychology. Once I graduated, I began working in the mental health field. I was working out in Philadelphia for about 2 ½ years. I worked as a mental health tech and then I became a mental health therapist. Pretty much all my life I’ve always done a lot of mental health work or working in a community-like settings, helping others. It’s kinda been my passion since I was young. I did that for a while and then I came here to Delaware and started working for the state. I worked with juveniles, loved doing that kind of thing and then I heard about Network Connect and the opportunity to be a community well-being ambassador and it literally fit everything that I’ve been wanting to do just in my life as far as, you know, career and passion wise. So, I submitted my resume, had my interview and then I started at the end of August and then I was an ambassador up until January and I became a coordinator for the Dover Team. So that’s how that happened.”

Nevaeh: “Wow that’s great! Okay. So, how do you think your work as a CWA helps to improve the lives of the people in your community?”

Kalena: “Oh, man. In many ways, I think that as an ambassador, it gives us opportunity to help individuals and needs that they have that haven’t been met by the state, by--it could be from any, you know, area of what they’re lacking. And as being ambassadors, we have more, resources, we have direct contacts, we’re actually out there seeing exactly what they’re going through, what they need, and we’re able to provide them with the resources in order to help their current situation. I think it allows us to directly help them, instead of, you know, you’re working for like the state or kind of like bigger companies you’re not really seeing the people like in their actual community, you’re kind of just reading whether it’s an email, whatever, but were actually able to see them put eyes on them, you know, actually communicate with them and help kind of like on a deeper level.”

Nevaeh: “What are some of the biggest challenges that you face in your role as a CWA and how do you overcome them?”

Kalena: “As a CWA I would say my biggest challenge is sometimes people feeling like you can’t relate to them, right? Because you’re not in their current predicament. But that just allows you to hone in on your skills of being empathetic to people. So, being able to tell them, I might not have been in your shoes. You’re correct. But I can understand, from you telling me I can empathize with you even though I don’t directly have that need right now but I might know someone or a member that I’ve known who, went through a similar type of thing. So I think the biggest challenge was probably some people feeling like they can’t relate to me whether it's my gender or my age, anything. Um, but that just allows me to kind of hone in on other skills that I have.”

Nevaeh: “Now that we discussed some challenges let's discuss some successes. Can you share with us some of your success stories and achievements that you achieved as a CWA?”

Kalena: “So, there was a young lady who was living at the woman's shelter and we do a lot of work, um, with the shelter. And she was someone who had came from out of state. She didn't have anyone here and she was going through a lot of like mental health, just kind of because of her current situation, just kind of dealing with a lot of things. But we have connected with her, met with her, had brought her food, had invited her out to our events and literally her whole demeanor, mental health kind of took a shift in like, you know, in a more positive direction and she’s not living at the shelter anymore and living in her own. So that was definitely a feel-good moment to see that happen right before your eyes.”

Nevaeh: “Yes, thats sounds like a wonderful success! What advice would you give to someone who is interested in becoming a CWA?”

Kalena: “I would say to not be scared and take risks. You know, we're in different communities that we might not have grown up around or seen, but don't be scared to get out there, you know, talk to the people. You'd be surprised how much we as people relate to one another regardless of our current circumstances. So I would say, you know, don't be scared to have a conversation, you know, kind of really build those relationships because you never know how you can change someone's life with just a conversation.”

Nevaeh: “I love that. Good answer. Yes, that is 100% true. What are some of the key skills and qualities that are necessary to succeed as a CWA?”

Kalena: “I would say my biggest thing is being able to be approachable and welcoming to others. You will not get a lot of people to tell you, you know, things they need and they feel like you're not, you know, genuine. So I think being genuine and being honest and transparent with people, I mean, of course, having boundaries still but allowing people to see that, you know, you're not talking at them, you know, you're really, you know, here to help them. Um you know, just better their lives. It's like a really big thing. Definitely being consistent and dedicated. Oftentimes people will say that they want to help but they're not consistent in that they just, you know, they're here one day and gone the next. So being consistent with your community members, you know, making sure you're popping up, you're checking in all that kind of stuff, but I definitely say consistency and being able to be welcoming and comfortable for others.”

Nevaeh: “Those are some great key qualities and skills! Okay last question, what does being a CWA mean to you?”

Kalena: “Um I low-key feel like I’m a superhero, you know, it’s one of those things where it’s like you're really changing people’s lives and it can be in small things, conversations, just bringing someone food, inviting them to one of our events. But realize those small things act as catalyst for the rest of their lives, their stories, their journey. So, it means the world to be able to be an active piece and helping other people, you know, better their lives.”

Nevaeh: “Okay that’s a wrap! Thank you so much for taking the time out of your day for this interview. I appreciate you, you did amazing.”

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