Leadership Spotlight: Anna Garrison
This month we're excited to feature our Transitional Housing Program Director Anna Garrison for our leadership spotlight! Originally from Nevada County, CA, Anna had several experiences early in life that contributed to her success with EA. Read on to learn more about how she found her way to EA Family Services, her advice to those interested in working with foster youth, and more!
Can you describe your background and what led you to EA?
When I was in high school, I connected with an organization called Campus Life, a branch of Youth for Christ, which helps support teenagers who are often hurting pretty deeply. Their hardworking staff was awesome, and really worked hard to develop relationships while taking the group on outdoor adventures. When I graduated high school, I became a staff member with Campus Life, because I wanted to know more about how to help kids in a deeper way as I learned about the trauma in their lives. Later when I discovered you could major in Social Work, I was hooked. One of my best friends became a foster parent with EA during my senior year of college, which is how I heard about them. I needed a Social Work internship, so I reached out to EA, and the rest is history!
Are there any experiences early in your life that contributed to your success with EA?
Experiencing some traumatic events in my childhood and adult years has helped me maintain a pretty deep level of compassion and empathy for our families and youth, with the pain they deal with on a daily basis. I also had a few adult mentors who worked hard to build a positive relationship with me, and I think that hugely impacted the course of my life.
What advice would you give to someone interested in working with youth in foster care?
Spend a lot of energy developing real, positive relationships with youth. If you try to give them rules without investing energy into building that relationship, you'll never see the change or have the impact you want. Also, try not to take things personally. They might take their anger out on you, but it's not (usually) about you. Always give your best efforts, but at the end of the day, your client's successes and failures belong to them, not you.
What do you like doing when you're not at work?
I'm pretty active, and I love the outdoors, so you'll often find me backpacking, camping, riding dirt bikes, or on some other sort of adventure with my amazing group of friends. Because of my background, I've spent a significant amount of time over the years mentoring teenagers, and hopefully helping them see their worth, and the significant purpose for which they were designed. I hold tightly to my Christian faith, and attribute any stability in my life to my relationship with Jesus. While I love adventures, I also love quiet time spent reading the Bible, other Christian books, and praying. I also love spending time with my nieces and nephews any chance I get.
What's a hidden talent you have, or something about you that would surprise people?
I was homeschooled up until college, and spent about ten years of my life involved in some form of dance, whether it was ballroom, country, etc.
Anything else you'd like to add?
I feel very grateful for my EA family, and the opportunities this agency has given me to grow over the years. It's always my hope to help others do the same.