Caterina “Cat” Rodriguez has been our social work intern at the BLC for the past 8 months. As she moves forward in her journey at Boston College to become a social worker, it is time for Cat to say goodbye to the BLC and leave us with some thoughts of her experience here…
It’s hard to believe that my time at the BLC is coming to a close when it feels like my first day back in September was not too long ago. Having moved to Boston just two weeks before I began this internship, I actually had never been to the BLC, so I didn’t really know what to expect. Little did I know that I would be in for the surprise of a lifetime.
From my first day here, I was greeted with so much warmth and excitement by both staff and members, and given the freedom to really explore all parts of the BLC. There has never been a moment when I didn’t feel completely welcome. It was like I instantly became a part of this community. Because that’s what BLC is, a community. It’s much more than just an organization or agency. From the smallest details, like our open door policy, to the most intentional gatherings, like communal meal times, every aspect of the BLC functions to foster a sense of community that is often times hard to find.
Getting to know the members has been such an incredible gift. Between eating meals with me, allowing me to sit in on groups, or strolling into my office with a question or a casual conversation, the members at the BLC not only immediately welcomed me into the Center, but also invited me into their lives. It’s easy to assume that in my role as an intern I’m here to serve them and help them, but in reality, the members served me and taught me just as much as I did them. In the membership I got to witness incredible stories of struggle, heartache, resiliency, strength, and victories. And that is something I will never forget. From amazing life stories to commiserating over the insane winter season to laughing so hard my stomach hurt, the members at the BLC have given me so many moments that I will cherish forever.
Getting to be a part of the staff at the BLC for these past 8 months has also been quite the ride. After my first couple of weeks, I quickly realized that the staff here are much more than just work colleagues to one another. They actually share their lives with one another, from the smallest of quirks to the biggest life events to the most hilarious inside jokes. It’s a kind of family that is often times rare to find in a workplace. And it trickles down into the work that they do and the efforts they put into the Center. This unique sense of community is not only found in the membership, but also in the staff, as well as between members and staff. And just like the members welcomed me into their lives, so did the staff welcome me into their “work family.” In addition to all the awesome supervisory chats, laughs, office talks, and bonding sessions, I am taking away so many lessons in life and in work from these wonderful people I have gotten to call colleagues and friends throughout this past year. Each one of them has helped me learn and grow in different ways, both as a person and as a social worker.
So as I wrap this up, I just want to say thank you. Thank you to all of you at the BLC who welcomed me with open arms into your community and your family. What I am taking away from this experience is a lot more than just a broader knowledge base of HIV/AIDS or operational management. I’m taking with me the memories of each one of you, every conversation, every laugh, every life lesson. This is a very special place and a very special community, and I am both honored and humbled to have been a part of it. Wherever my future may lead, know that I will carry it with me in joy and gratitude.