As a transition facilitator, Nataly Gomez works with a very specific population on a very specific goal. She helps clients ages 14-26 successfully transition to adulthood.
“That transition to adulthood is not linear. You can take so many different routes until you finally get to that adult phase.”
“It’s an age where you feel like no one understand you, and it’s also that age where you start to think and act for yourself,” she said. “It’s important to know that this new journey you’re taking on is your choice, to do what you want to do, to study what you want to study and work where you want to work. It’s all in your control.”
But clients don’t have to go that journey alone. Nataly is there as a guide. She works for the TIP team – it stands for Transition to Independence Process – and focuses on five key, practical domains: living situation; community life and functioning; personal effectiveness and wellbeing; education, and career and employment.
She’s been with Oaklawn for about eight months. She started right after receiving her degree in health promotion at IUSB and felt a special connection to the clients she’d be working with.
“I feel like I started off so young trying to transition into adulthood,” she said. “I felt like I had that experience to share.”
Nataly became pregnant when she was only 18. She was a young single mom juggling college, work and motherhood – and she did it successfully.
“That’s where I realized that adulthood and that transition to adulthood is not linear,” she said. “You can take so many different routes until you finally get to that adult phase.”
She sees that in her clients’ lives, too. Each one is at a different place in their journey, and her job is to tailor services specific for each one. It’s rewarding to watch them grow and succeed in their goals, she says. And the most challenging part of her job is to not get too attached. While some people clock out at the end of the day and don’t think about work, she often carries hers with her.
“I feel like it’s hard for me not to care,” she said. “I think about how their job interview went, or did they turn in this assignment because they need to keep their grades up.”
Despite the challenges, she loves her work and plans to continue in the social work field – she may even pursue her master’s degree so she can become a therapist. She believes it’s important for the health of the community to have robust mental health services, and she wants to be a part of that.
“We have to help others,” she said, “especially vulnerable populations.”