MCAO employees are constantly making a difference in the courtroom and beyond. For example, this summer, employees from the Juvenile Division partnered with the Hope Women's Center and created a summer mentorship program for teenage girls. The Hope Women's Center provides services and resources to at-risk women struggling with poverty, substance abuse, emotional distress, and family conflict, among other issues. Serving communities throughout the valley, the center provides women with the tools and resources they need for personal growth. Through crisis counseling, mentorship, educational and support programs, women can heal from the trauma they've endured and focus on making a positive change in their life.
The Hope Women's Center reached out to MCAO's Juvenile Division in search of employees that could provide mentorship and career guidance to teenage girls whose mothers were at the center. From this initial request, prosecutors Danielle Shaw, Michelle Arino, and Jackie Molina worked together to develop a 4-week summer program focused on professional development.
During the program's first session, the prosecutors shared their career path and talked about the challenges they faced and what helped them get to where they are today. Danielle shared that they encouraged the girls to think about their skills and what careers they see themselves in the future. "We want to help them see that there are windows of opportunity, and whenever they get one, they should take advantage of it."
In the following sessions, the girls learned about organizational skills, the importance of time management, and how to conduct informational interviews. They also learned about resiliency first-hand from local businesswomen who shared the obstacles they had to overcome to succeed in their careers.
In the final session, the girls met with and interviewed professionals in their field of interest, including immigration law, photography, teaching, and nursing. From these interviews, each girl identified the next steps and what they needed to focus on in their learning. They also received information on summer internships and scholarship opportunities.
Danielle hopes that the program and exposure gave the girls a positive start to their career planning. "It felt good to be able to get them information that I never got when I was at that age, and I'm hoping that they can take it and use it to do something great."
Working in the Juvenile Division, prosecutors are focused on the reactive side of things like youth rehabilitation. Therefore any opportunity to be proactive and keep youth from the court system is essential to take. Danielle hopes to do more programs like this in the future to have a positive influence on youth and help them stay on a good path. "I enjoy doing these programs. I'm very thankful when I get asked to be a part of them because it's our opportunity to be proactive in the community and help young people.