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2020-01-02 06:00:00

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Coworker Corner: Elizabeth Sorice

Coworker Corner: Elizabeth Sorice

Education was always very important to Elizabeth Sorice.

“Growing up, my parents really valued education,” she explained. “It was something that they always instilled into me and my sisters. I went to a private school and my parents were [from a] working class background, they were working really hard to pay tuition and make sure that we were having a good education. So I saw all the effort and the time that they were putting into education.”

On top of that, Elizabeth said she is someone who just loves to learn—that’s why it’s probably no surprise that she’s found her place at Mercy Home in the Education and Career Resources department as the director of education and career resources at our Walsh Girls Campus.

“Just being in the education realm and helping kids understand their full capacity and learn new subjects and [find out] what they’re passionate about and want to learn more about excites me,” she said.

Elizabeth graduated from college with a major in women’s studies and an art history minor but knew that she wanted to work in a nonprofit with kids after graduating because of a work study program she participated in during her time in college. This program allowed her to run afterschool programming with kids and keeping them busy through activities and tutoring.

So, after graduating college, Mercy Home immediately interested Elizabeth. But before she was hired, she worked at a policy-focused organization on childhood obesity. Though it was a great experience where Elizabeth said she learned a lot, she said that she ended up feeling disconnected from the population the organization was trying to reach—the children themselves.

“They were specifically working with schools and administrators and also kids on learning healthy behaviors,” she explained.

“And I was like, well, I want to be in the school, I want to be with the kids, I was to be doing programs with the kids.”

After six or seven months with that organization, Elizabeth decided to try applying at Mercy Home again. She was hired as the day coordinator in Seton Home, the program for our youngest girls.

“It was a great way to start in terms of just learning more about residential treatment, which I wasn’t too familiar with,” she said.

“Being a day coordinator … was really I think a great first step to understanding more about Mercy Home,” she said, noting that she had to keep track of the kids’ files and day-to-day schedules as part of that position.

After a little over a year as a day coordinator, Elizabeth decided to apply for an education coordinator position and has been part of our Education and Career Resources team for the rest of her 12 years with Mercy Home.

During this time, she has witnessed the program grow and expand—something she is proud of and hopes for more of.

“It’s helpful to see at both campuses how we’ve grown in terms of numbers, in terms of coworkers, and also our reach,” she said. “So when it comes to things like … working with different sites and different opportunities for the kids to explore [afterschool programs] and all those things, I think that there’s always room for growth, too. I’ve seen personal growth in my time here and professional growth. It’s always motivating to know what else is out there [and] how we can continue to improve and grow.”

“It’s helpful to see at both campuses how we’ve grown in terms of numbers, in terms of coworkers, and also our reach.”

Though Elizabeth’s job has continued to expand include supervisory duties as she’s progressed in her career here, she always makes sure that being around to help the kids when they arrive home from school in the evenings. She also still has Seton Home on her caseload, which keeps her connected to her roots of how she started at Mercy Home.

“I really like being connected to the roots of why I even started to begin with,” she said. “I want to be with the kids and understand what they’re going through. It also helps when trying to think about bigger picture [things] for policy changes. It’s thinking about, how does this work in practice? And having that own personal experience myself to see how [something will] work.

In addition to education-focused things, Elizabeth has also taken on afterschool and career programming. She is part of supporting our internship program, as well helping plan events like career panels or the job skills workshop. She and her team have also been working hard to bolster afterschool programming, particularly through adding more fitness programming like dance, as well as art programming.

“It’s fun and exciting and the kids are being exposed to possibly new ways to express themselves,” she said.

Working with others is the part of Elizabeth’s job that she most enjoys.

“It’s [helped with] understanding shifts in population over time,” she said. “I would say that the demographics of the kids [has changed]. They are definitely coming in with different needs from when I first started. …It’s allowed me to see a shifting landscape from the Chicago perspective and it’s also that human connection, working with people [and] not just being behind a desk doing things.”

“It’s fun and exciting and the kids are being exposed to possibly new ways to express themselves.”

She is also grateful that her job has allowed her to work with so many different people not just in Mercy Home, but also in outside organizations that Mercy Home works with.

“I like going beyond the walls, working with schools, working with teachers, working with outside partners,” she explained. “I think a lot of our work is so interdisciplinary and there’s so much crossover that it’s nice to connect with people in that field, too

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