Victoria Amato is a First Year Fellow serving at West End House Boys & Girls Club as the Academic Support Fellow
1. What do you appreciate about your host site?
The West End House brings such a strong sense of community. For so many people, the West End House is a second family, and it truly feels like a part of my job to ensure everyone feels at home. Though many community organizations want to have this focus, I think it is rare that it stands so much at the forefront of what is being offered. From Family Nights to everyday programming, creating an inclusive and welcoming environment is always our main priority. Even though we serve an extremely diverse population of about 400 kids a day, ranging in age from 7 to 18 and with students from all over the greater Boston area, the commitment to community-building is unlike anything I have seen before.
2. How does your own adolescent experience inform the way you work with young people today?
Growing up, I was lucky enough to have a strong support system, emotionally and academically. Without this type of support, I would have never thought of making it to college and sticking it out on my own after graduation. I hope that those young people I work with who may not have such a strong support system will one day see me as someone they can rely on. Though these types of relationships certainly do not form overnight, it is my long-term goal to help connect my youth to the resources they need and to see the value in the relationships they have. As a young person, it can be easy to take friends, teachers and family for granted, and I hope I can show my youth that creating and cultivating healthy relationships will benefit them for the rest of their lives.
3. What is your favorite aspect of MPF Monthly Meetings?
Seeing all of my Fellow Fellows! I’m so grateful to be able to connect to individuals doing similar work who have many of the same interests and passions. Hearing their advice, input and genuine words of encouragement is the most energizing part of these meetings. I particularly enjoy meeting in our smaller advising groups, allowing time to fully understand the experiences of other Fellows as well as work shopping issues we may be facing with our youth. MPF has done a wonderful job of cultivating a safe and comfortable space, allowing us to share without fear of judgment, something that can be hard to find.
4. How do you practice self-care?
Lots of ways! First is music. I love going to live shows and especially exploring new venues around the Boston area. Cooking is super important to me as well. I’m not that great yet and usually have to stick to recipes, but it’s such a stress relief to save money and be prepped for food for the entire week. And like pretty much everyone else… watching Netflix and taking naps.
5. Describe an animal that best represents your leadership style.
I feel like this is always my go-to answer, but I also think most people would agree… definitely a cat. I’m a big fan of the “Step up, Step back” leadership style, and think a cat kind of personifies this. At first, I can be a little shy and occasionally unwilling to step out of my comfort zone. Once I feel comfortable, though, I have no problem making my voice heard and leading a group. And unlike a dog, I don’t need to be the center of attention all of the time.