Staff Spotlight: Carrie Carlson

HOPE SOLUTIONS: What drew you to Hope Solutions?

portrait of Carrie Carlson

CARRIE: After 15 years working as a bilingual classroom teacher in public schools, I was looking for a new opportunity to work with students and families outside of the classroom. I was immediately drawn to Hope Solutions’ vision of supporting residents with a strong community so that they can reach their full potential. Our youth services provide a perfect blend of academic and social-emotional support, enrichment opportunities, and advocacy within the school systems to provide the support network students need to succeed.

HOPE SOLUTIONS: What positions have you held at Hope Solutions? 

CARRIE: I worked for 2 years as a Youth Enrichment Coordinator with Hope Solutions at our Lakeside location. I was then promoted to Youth Program Supervisor, where I have served for the last 2 years, overseeing our youth services at four different sites around Contra Costa County.

HOPE SOLUTIONS: What do you like most about your position(s)?

CARRIE: I love that I get to work directly with students, families, staff, and community members to impact the lives of children in a variety of ways. Not only do we support their academic growth and success, but we also help students expand their worldview and develop valuable life skills that will help them reach their full potential.  As a classroom teacher, I knew I was helping develop students’ academic knowledge and foundational skills. At Hope Solutions, I believe we have a greater impact on the lives of the students we work with because we develop one on one relationships with the students and their families. That relationship allows us to meet their specific and varied needs more directly. The student and family feels seen and heard and develops the confidence and skill set to advocate for themselves.

HOPE SOLUTIONS: How has your role adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic?  What do you do for self-care?

CARRIE: The pandemic affected every aspect of how we provide services to our youth and families. As the Youth Program Supervisor, I have helped my team pivot and develop creative ways to engage with the youth in our program. We shifted from in-person services to online services. Each site has a Zoom account where they host youth programming each day. We were able to engage students in one-on-one tutoring and homework help in Zoom breakout rooms, as well as small and large group enrichment activities.  At the close of the last academic school year, we developed a hybrid Summer Program. We provided five (5) weeks of summer camps for students, with a mix of online and in-person activities. Students participated in a variety of camps, including Engineering, Career/College Readiness, Drama, Art, Music, and Empowerment.

HOPE SOLUTIONS: What do you do for self-care?

CARRIE: Self-care is vital for everyone, and especially necessary for those who work to support and care for others. As an educator and as a parent, I know that if we don’t take time to recharge our own batteries, we don’t have enough energy to properly support those around us. I personally take time every day to engage in healthy motion (walking 4+ miles, swimming, yoga, stretching) and quiet time for reading and journaling. I love to get outside in nature as often as possible and spend time with people who lift my spirit and inspire me.

HOPE SOLUTIONS: What brings you hope about your work and the mission of Hope Solutions?

CARRIE: The kids we work with bring me hope. Kids see the world with excitement and joy, compassion and empathy, wonder and curiosity. They remind me that there is so much good in this world. Their potential is limitless. They can do anything they set their mind to do. And our mission and vision at Hope Solutions is to provide resources to ensure that all people have the opportunity to live with dignity and reach their full potential. By providing invaluable supports and resources to our youth, we create a strong foundation for them to go out in the world and have a positive impact on others.