The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly:
Victory, Not Victims
Hello! My name is Grace Rains, and I am currently working as a social work intern here at the Bethlehem Center through the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Anyone who knows me knows that all I really talk about anymore is the Beth, the kids at the Beth, or upcoming events concerning the Beth. From an outsider’s perspective, this agency is an older building that sits in the midst of the Alton Park community that takes care of kids every day after-school. From an intern’s perspective, I’m here to tell you that this place is so much more than an after-school program – it’s a family.
Coming into this internship, I thought I knew what it meant to put myself in someone else’s shoes. Then I met a little girl named Jamariya. She lives near the Beth with her mom and siblings. If anyone has a reason to feel like a victim, it’s her. Jamariya comes from a single-parent, low-income household, and lives in a notoriously high-risk neighborhood for crime. However, after spending time in the Eggs classroom (our K - 1st graders), I realized that she is one of the best students in her class. During snack time, she doesn’t care to sit alone and mind her own business. She is also extremely sweet and rarely disturbs the other children. Seeing Jamariya constantly exhibit resilience and strength inspires me to rise above whatever life throws at me. She helps me see that I don’t have to be a victim to my circumstances.
Jamariya’s life is just one encouraging story in the midst of around 100 kids we serve throughout the year at the Bethlehem Center. If there’s one thing I’ve learned at the Beth, it’s that this place will change your perspective of the world. Being around staff who are so passionate about bettering the lives of their students shows me that there is always a better or more creative way to get through to a child. Working with kids who rise above what life throws at them taught me about resilience, how to fight for equity, and how to be more outspoken about the injustices occurring in the world.
At the end of the day, the truth is that this place isn’t always pretty. Being a part of a family means that you get the good, bad, and ugly. The bad and the ugly come in fits of crying when a kid has a bad day at school or is acting out physically because of a problem. However, the good makes it all worth it when you see the joy in a child after being told that he or she is Star Student of the Month, how much Christmas shopping money he or she acquired because of good behavior, or when a child tells you that the Beth is his or her favorite place to be. I wouldn’t trade my time here for anything, and I’m so excited to see how the Beth continues to grow in the future!
Grace is a senior at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga and plans to graduated with a degree in social work. In the future she plans to attend graduate school to pursue her master's degree in social work and later work for a non - profit with child advocacy or ACEs early intervention. In her spare time Grace loves to hang with family and friends.