Yi Yang is Wellspring’s first Children’s Corner coordinator and has worked at Wellspring for eight years.
Now, she is leaving Wellspring to start anew in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her last day will be on October 30th, 2015. Yi has too many people to say goodbye to.
“I don’t feel like I am coming to work,” she said. “I see why a lot of our guests come here and why they call this place both their home and their family. When I leave, I will miss all the relationships that I built at Wellspring.”
She hopes to bring Wellspring with her wherever she goes.
Yi radiates calmness even on the most bustling mornings in the Children’s Corner. She has nurtured relationships with children and their mothers in order to support Wellspring children through the journey of growing up.
“Children just want to know that someone accepts, loves and cares for them,” she said.
The corner is covered in a canopy of quilts and bursting with color – vintage Disney princess prints adorn the walls. It is an environment filled with opportunities for the children of Wellspring to learn, play and build friendships. Yi plans weekly music jam sessions, science experiments, baking classes and crafts for them.
“We have the computers, we have puzzles,” she said. “One of their favorites is just the magnetic blocks where they can just be creative and build a castle or a tower and knock it down. We have the kitchen where they can learn about vegetables and colors — they learn through play. Whatever they are engaged in, they are learning. They learn how to share, play together and to put away their toys before they move on to the next activity.”
While school is in session, Yi works with children between two and four years old and creates lesson plans to prepare them for kindergarten.
“A lot of it is teaching them their shapes, their colors, sizes and how to recognize their names – working on their fine motor skills – teaching them how to hold a pencil,” she said. “That’s why we bring in the arts and crafts – they allow them to really use their hands, be creative and work with other materials.”
When the children complete five learning packets, they get a prize.
“It is a good opportunity for moms to encourage their children to start doing their homework and help them out with it,” she said.
“A lot of our moms don’t know that they are the first teacher in their child’s life,” she said. “Many of them also do know that, but they are so busy that they can’t make time for their child.”
Before, Yi was the Children’s Corner Coordinator, she was a volunteer. Sister Judy asked Yi to work in the Children’s Corner right after she graduated from Sacramento State with a bachelors in Social Work.
While at Wellspring, she became a mother. She reflected that caring for her daughter has gifted her with even more respect for the guests who are mothers at Wellspring — many of whom battle homelessness, poverty, job insecurity and lack of access to transportation, but still possess love to share with their children.
What have you learned from Wellspring?
“I definitely have a lot more patience with our children and our moms and make the time to listen and to hear their stories,” she said. “I think sometimes that is just all they need – a loving ear, you know, because there is a lot of love that is exchanged through just being present and listening to someone.”
“I have seen a lot of babies grow into just beautiful kids,” she added.