This past year, Darrell served as a Bachelors in Social Work (BSW) intern at Wellspring – assisting guests with case management while gifting many stuffed animals to the children of Wellspring.

In September, he is starting his Masters in Social Work (MSW) at Sacramento State.

After getting out of the Marine Corps, Darrell found employment and a calling at Trinity Youth Services, a level 12 group home, working with troubled teens in Oakland.

“I didn’t know exactly what a Social Worker did, but that was my entire childhood growing up,” Darrell said.

“I would make comments to my co-workers, saying: ‘I can’t believe that they are paying me to do this.’ It is like working with my family – violence and stealing – you name it – that was just how our neighborhood was.”

“A lot of the kids were just broken and tired of the run around,” he said. “It was gratifying – my motto was to be firm, but fair. I’ll bend a little, but you’ve got to give me a little. We had this trust and it was very rewarding.”

What does Wellspring mean to you?

“Wellspring plays a key role in the community and the survival and well-being of certain families,” he said. “A lot of the women really rely and lean on the facility and the staff here for their day to day activities.”

“What does Wellspring mean to me,” he asked. “I think it is very important. It is a great place. It has been an opportunity for me to grow – to see my flaws and my strengths.”

How has it allowed you to grow?

“It has allowed me to open up,” he said. “It has allowed me to see another side of me that I don’t really let a lot of people see.”

What has Wellspring taught you?

“Patience and trust.”

What has it been like to work at a Women’s Center as a man?

“I got a lot of standoffishness from some of the women,” Darrell said. “I think some of the women don’t have good experiences with guys. I’m the only guy here. It’s been entertaining, but at the beginning it took a little while to gain the trust of the guests.”

Do you have a favorite anecdote or story from Wellspring that you would like to share?

“My favorite story from Wellspring would just be all of my interactions with the children,” he said. “I know that I probably gave out too many gifts – more than I ever should have given out and it was a lot of stuffed animals. If a kid came in with an Iron Man shirt on and there were Iron Man pencils upstairs, I would give the kid a pencil. I was always trying to find a little connection.”

Is there anything else you would like to add or share?

“I had a really good experience and I think that a lot of that had to do with who I worked with – the staff and the energy and how we fed off of each other,” he said. “I enjoyed being around the women and being on the floor from 8:30 am – 11:30 am. I liked that connection. It was just really nice. I’m excited that I’m graduating and moving on, but something has to come to an end and that means no more internship so it is a little sad.”

“The safety net thing – I think it means a lot to the community,” Darrell added. “A lot of the women talk about using Wellspring to be able to come in and just vent with their tables while their little ones are at the children’s corner – they don’t have to have that 24 hour supervision and the Grandma, the mom, the aunt or the sister can have a chance to relax and interact with the other adults. You just hear a lot about how it helps – how they might be having a rough week and can use Wellspring as a coping mechanism to connect and use the services.”

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