Special Moments at the Beth
Hello! My name is Brooklynn Ray, but I go by Marie. I am currently a student at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. I’m also a social work intern at the Bethlehem Center (the Beth), and I’m currently working with the Education Department. Working at the Beth has become a part of my life, which means that everyone who knows me knows that the Beth is all I talk about. I’m either discussing how my day was, which child impacted me, or my plans to help these kids in the future whether with their education, their behavior, or to help them grow in all aspects of life. The Beth has become a second home to me! The students there have become like my own kids, and I love them with every piece of me.
For example, I was originally assigned to work with the middle schoolers, known as the Butterflies. I have a very close connection with each one of them. I’m aware of what they like, dislike, what intrigues them, and even the way they speak (because most times they like to speak in codes, lol). During my time with them, I have strongly bonded with one special girl in particular named Quinntazia. When we first met it was a little rocky. I was new, which meant the kids would try to see what they could get away with. Quinntazia tried that for the first week but soon realized that I wasn’t mean, but I wasn’t going to allow her and the other students to walk over me.
After that, we became close. One day she was having a hard time and felt like no one was listening to her so I sat with her, told her it was okay, and that she could speak to me and let me know what was going on. We would work together on how to solve the problem. That day she began to trust me and the bond continued to grow from there. Since then she makes sure to hug me and say hello and goodbye. I love her like she is my own child, and I’m happy to see how much she has grown in school and in her behavior. Speaking with her more and more has made me see a little bit of myself in her when I was younger. I can’t wait to see how much she grows with the right tools and support.Another child who has strongly impacted me is Shatorria.
Working with Shatorria has shown me patience because sometimes she can be a handful whether she’s talking all day, dancing, joking around, or just wants some love. She is very passionate about whatever she is discussing or interested in, and I love her for that. When she is focused on a negative topic such as bad behavior, an incident at school, or daily life issues, I have learned how to change her focus or discussion to something positive. Shatorria also had a breakthrough moment with me as well. While having a bad day, she trusted me enough to sit down with me and let everything go so we could begin to have a better rest of the day. Shatorria is very strong-minded, very protective, and very affectionate. She makes sure that every day she asks if she can hug me just to show love and that she cares. I love her like she is also mine.
These two girls have changed my life and have made my time at the Beth greater than what it could have been. I look forward to seeing them every time I’m at the Beth. I am also lucky because on Wednesdays I’m allowed to eat lunch with them at their school and discuss anything they want. I’m also thankful to work at the Beth because when I was younger I lived in Nashville, TN and also grew up in a community center called Bethlehem Center! That place helped me grow into the person I am today, and I’m happy that I can now be a part of a similar organization. Hopefully, I will have a strong impact on the kids here, just like the center had on me when I was younger.
Marie is a senior at UTC majoring in social work. She enjoys cooking, singing, and traveling. She is a part of the Littleton H. Mason Singers at UTC and has traveled to Ireland, Whales, England, and France. She plans to continue her travel adventures! After graduation she plans to attend Southern Adventist University in fall 2019 and receive her Master's in Social Work. Afterwards, her goal is to be a marriage and family therapist.