Meet the Center’s Wati Haywood

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I came to work at the Center because I really love helping young people, and I wanted to make a difference. I began as a Youth Advocate then became a Life Skills Specialist and now I’m a Youth Care Specialist for our drop-in space.

I was a teenage mom, and I’ve been on my own since I was 16. I understand that our clients are young, and they have to go through their bumps and bruises just like I did. I’ve learned to be transparent and let them know that we all have troubles and struggles. It’s about being human and not having a judgmental demeanor.

I’ve always been a giver but working at the Center has made me even more of a giver. I’m eager to make sure people get help. It’s been different since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic but the needs are still there. We are still housing youth—it’s just a little slower, and youth are still trying to come here from other states and sometimes other countries.

I had a youth who was from Russia and, being LGBT, he knew he couldn’t go back. This was in the months leading up to the pandemic. Everything I told him, he followed every step. He has his own place now, he has a car, he has his documents and can work, he has a social security card. One of my greatest joys for 2020 was having him tell me ‘thank you’ and ‘bye.’ That was the best feeling ever.

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Hometown: Pasadena, CA

Year Started Working at Center: 2015

Staff Position: Youth Care Specialist

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