Project Resilience: Working With Vulnerable Populations And Managing Second Hand Trauma

Aug 31, 2021

Support systems and community resources can help immigrants who are navigating the challenges of making a new home in a new country. 

And while those who provide that support usually do it because they care about others, they often experience second hand trauma. As part of Project Resilience, we meet a few of the home visitors from the Family Place in Logan.

When people immigrate to another country for safety or in search of better opportunities, the experience is full of new challenges. For the people who provide help and emotional support to these families, the experiences of the people they help do not impact them personally. This is the case for Maritza Griffiths, who works as an immigrant family educator at The Family Place in Logan.

 

Griffiths' job is to visit the homes of newly arrived families and provide them with moral, educational and emotional support.

 

"I've been working as a home visitor for The Family Place for a year now,” Griffiths said.
The program existed previously, but only for American families. So it's been about two years since the program has been extended to immigrants and refugees."

 

Griffiths loves her job and cares about the people he works with. But the work she does also creates pressure and stress for you due to the different situations your clients come from.

 

"These people are fleeing from something that is happening in their countries: poverty, violence—in the majority of cases from Central America, they come due to very strong violence caused by gang presence like the MS-13,” she said.

 

Other people Griffiths works with have suffered sexual abuse or assault. One experience that he found particularly painful was talking to a young woman who had been sexually abused by her stepfather.

 

"Actually, that affected me a lot,” she said. “It affected me a lot. I didn't know what to say to her. I felt very bad. I felt so much injustice, so much pain."

 

To continue caring for others, it is important that Griffiths takes care of herself. She does this through the professional help that The Family Place provides for her. Likewise, her supervisor provides emotional and moral support.

 

Christina Ledesma is another home visitor at The Family Place. She has worked there for over two years and has experienced many of the same things as Griffiths.

 

Her job is to help families who have suffered separation or trauma crossing the US-Mexico border. For her it is more than a job, it is something for which she feels a personal responsibility. And that personal nature affects her mental health.

 

"I really wasn't expecting all the trauma that I was going to experience, nor that it was going to affect me so much doing this job because we work with families who have experienced trauma from being separated at the border,” she said.

 

Ledesma said that the support of her co-workers and her supervisor help her carry this weight. She said she meets with Griffiths a lot to talk about her experiences and exchange advice and emotional support. She also told us that they, as home visitors, receive a lot of support from The Family Place management, who put at their disposal a large number of resources to maintain good mental and emotional health.

 

She also finds in her faith the strength to endure.

 

"Because if I did not have the support of her or my supervisor and my faith, because my faith is central to what I do,” Ledesma said. “I am Catholic and my faith centers me. It is my strength because in these families there is so much poverty that many people do not see."

 Listen to the story in Spanish here: