Hi there, A Home Within Community! I’m Candice Simonds. As the CA Clinical Director for the A Home Within CASA Therapy Project, I lead our collaboration to expand telehealth to youth across the state. I endeavor to support our community of CA volunteers and respond to the unique needs of each chapter. This fall, I had the privilege of having lunch with AHW Volunteer Therapist and Clinical Director of our San Diego Chapter, Mae Howard, LCSW, RPT. I was eager to learn “what” and “who” called her to serve and volunteer to be a leader in her community. I was immediately impacted by her warm smile and felt her passion for improving mental health disparities for transition-age youth in the County of San Diego. I hope you’ll enjoy reading the Q&A below and learning more about Mae’s incredible work.
Candice: Tell me a little bit about yourself—whatever you’d like to share.
Mae: Well, I’m a mother of two awesome sons. I’m a career changer. I started off wanting to have a career in International Business but due to personal dynamics shifted to social work after my undergrad.
C: How did you first get involved with A Home Within, and why were you drawn to it?
M: While working at Children’s Hospital, I observed gaps in care, youth feeling frustrated with having to retell their foster/trauma stories, or having gaps in care due to funding issues. And on a personal note, in late 2016 I started looking into adopting and found a flyer at Children’s Hospital from AHW. This flyer addressed a need for me to get more information and created an opportunity for me to provide mental health services by counseling a youth aging out of foster care with multiple episodes in treatment.
C: How would you describe the impact A Home Within has on individuals, families, and/or communities?
M: We fill in the gaps and provide continuity of care for youth involved in foster care.
C: What would you say are A Home Within’s most significant accomplishments during your time with the organization?
M: I’m loving the support they give to all their chapters and bringing a professional community together to address social problems.
C: What would you say to someone who was considering volunteering with (and/or donating to) AHW?
M: 100% Do it! Being part of the solution and making a commitment to one youth can have a valuable impact for an entire community.
C: What do you think people not yet familiar with A Home Within would find most surprising about the work the organization does?
M: The amount of research happening is awesome and we are nationwide!
C: Where do you see AHW headed in the next five to ten years? What would you like to see happen?
M: I would love to see chapters expand to more states especially in states with higher numbers of youth involved in the foster care system.
C: What’s the most special part of AHW for you?
M: The mere fact it exists is special and it feels amazing to be available to families.
C: What impact has your work with AHW had on your life?
M: It has touched my heart in a way that no other program has—I have never experienced this depth of connection to my community by serving one person.
A Home Within is the only national organization dedicated solely to meeting the emotional needs of foster youth. Our volunteer therapists meet one on one with a young person that they have committed to “for as long as it takes.” We identify, recruit, train, match, and support this network of licensed therapists who each provide free, weekly, one-to-one therapy to a single foster youth.
In Mae’s San Diego Chapter we currently have a waitlist of individuals seeking support through therapy. If you’re a licensed clinical therapist with one hour per week to spare, please consider volunteering with us and help us by spreading the word to your professional network. We provide access to a thriving national community of therapists, free and ongoing Continuing Education courses, and support from consultation groups.