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lone tree in desert

Hi, I’m Colette Brooks, a rising junior at Duke studying psychology and global health. This summer, I will be working with a Durham-based nonprofit called Families Moving Forward. FMF is an emergency shelter program for families experiencing homelessness. The organization has a multigenerational approach, serving both parents and children, unlike many other emergency shelters. My work at FMF is focused on the concept of resiliency. In basic terms, resiliency is how people deal with negative situations and how they bounce back. FMF wants to become their own resilient community. They want to find what it takes for their staff, their guests, and even their organization to be resilient.


My role and responsibilities in this project have a very heavy weight to them. Ironically, I often question if I am personally resilient enough to make recommendations to others on how to be resilient. I have encountered many personal struggles over the past couple of years; ones that I have learned and grown from and others that I can’t seem to quite shake off yet. When I first heard of the opportunity to be a part of this project and as I learned about resilience, I found myself reflecting on my own life and struggles. I asked myself questions like “How have I worked through my own struggles?” and “What have I learned from them?”  I was speaking to my supervisor the other day and I shared with her that one thing I have found most effective in resilience in my own life is to stop, take a breathe, and take the necessary time to reflect. Most online resources for resiliency techniques involve multistep and often complicated approaches, but in real life, and during real struggles, we realized the most human thing to do is to stop, breathe, and reflect.


I believe the project at FMF will show both the organization and myself many different approaches to resiliency. Some are based in theory, others are based in the systems of the organization itself, but most importantly, some approaches are based on people and their natural reactions to hardship.  We can learn a lot from each other to accomplish the final goal of the resiliency project.  As we carry on with this project, I know that we will naturally have ups and downs, but by learning from those ups and downs, I hope to find the best methods and resources to bring this project to life.