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Meet Jenn: A Champion of Empathy and Support at CHIL

Jenn stands as a steadfast advocate and Youth Engagement Specialist (YES) at CHIL. Since joining the team in June 2023, Jenn has embodied a spirit of empathy, unwavering dedication, and genuine connection with the youth they serve.

Pictured from left to right: Jenn (Youth Engagement Specialist); Mya (Youth Engagement Specialist); and Vonna (Reimagine Program Supervisor)

"The connections with the youth are invaluable to me," Jenn reflects earnestly. "They impart wisdom and insight every day, making each return to work meaningful."

Jenn's role as a Youth Engagement Specialist at CHIL is multifaceted and integral to the organization's mission. As frontline staff, they are the welcoming presence that greets youth in their moments of vulnerability. From overseeing the welcome desk to managing the drop-in center and residential program on the third floor, Jenn wears many hats, providing support and guidance tailored to each individual's needs.

"At the core of my role is being a resource for our youth," Jenn explains. "Whether it's assisting with appointments, giving advice, resolving conflicts, or simply lending a listening ear, I strive to meet them where they are and offer unwavering support."

At Covenant House Illinois, the YES team plays a pivotal role in creating a nurturing environment where youth can thrive. Jenn, alongside their colleague Mads, recently led an LGBTQ+ sensitivity training session for youth in the drop-in center, emphasizing the importance of inclusivity and understanding. This training was just one in an ongoing series of workshops that Jenn has curated for our youth.

"It's vital to create spaces where youth feel safe to express themselves authentically," Jenn asserts. "Through dialogue and education, we foster a sense of belonging and solidarity." Trainings like this are especially vital because statistics show that LGBTQ+ youth are 120% more likely to experience homelessness than their non-LGBTQ+ peers.[1]

Beyond the daily responsibilities, Jenn finds fulfillment in the ongoing journey of empathy and understanding. "The opportunity to continuously expand my capacity for empathy is incredibly rewarding," they share thoughtfully. "Each encounter with our diverse youth enriches my perspective and strengthens my ability to support others, both within and beyond the workplace."

In a world often characterized by division and indifference, Jenn stands as a beacon of compassion and allyship for the youth at CHIL. Their commitment to fostering genuine connections, promoting empathy, and championing inclusivity serves as a catalyst for positive change, illuminating a path toward a more equitable and compassionate future for all.

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