Welcome to Humans of JF&CS! Periodically, we will be featuring two different staff members to highlight the amazing work they do.
Behind our 40+ programs are compassionate, committed, and dedicated staff who care deeply about our mission and our agency. With this broad range of programs comes a team of staff members with diverse interests, passions, and skills, who all share a deep commitment to improve people's lives. We hope these staff spotlights give you a taste of the incredible individuals behind our services and a sense of the deep compassion and dedication they bring every day.
Amy SommerI am the Clinical Coordinator of Project NESST®, which offers support and therapy for substance-exposed newborns and their families. I'm responsible for a lot of the day-to-day and clinical vision for Project NESST.
I started my social work career working with young parents and their infants in a Healthy Families program. From the beginning, it's been clear that the work has an exponential impact. You impact a parent, you impact an infant, and you impact the ways that they impact each other. So, there's this feeling of an exponential value to the intervention, especially when it goes well.
Before this job, I had not worked with people exclusively with a substance use disorder. I've found this work so rewarding. People with substance use disorders is a population that is drastically under served and sometimes those who provide services unintentionally contribute to stigma by using coercive tactics and by tapping into women's guilt, shame, and fear.
Amy Sommer is the Clinical Director of Project NESST.
Michael TotagrandeWhat brought me here was the human point of view. I was working in finance in downtown Boston and we were handling a lot of money, but for me it didn't translate into anything of real importance. I'm sure the money was important to the people who had invested it, but I was looking for the human connection. So, I started looking at non-profits and I was fortunate enough to land here.
I am the accountant for the Guardianship program. We have 50 clients and we're either their guardian so we look out for them personally or we're their guardian and conservator, in which case we're also looking out for them financially. There are four case workers in our department and they just do the most magnificent work, it's impossible to convey. It's inspiring to me, because they go out and do battle on behalf of our clients, dealing with really difficult situations. They come out having taken the best care of the client and really represented the agency in a positive way.
It's kind of hard to say that that's exciting, but it is in a way, our own little battles that when we win we all come together and cheer over that. These really are life and death situations so it's kind of hard to feel like "hey, good job", but it warms your heart when you rescue someone, when you know they've been placed in a secure place.
Michael Totagrande is the staff accountant for the Guardianship program in Waltham.