Latrina Hopton remembers her family sometimes needing help and support when she was growing up. Now, as an adult, she wants to give back.
“I wanted to always pass that along to someone else because it really is very difficult and hard to make it out in this world without any support or help,” she says.
Latrina is the lead outreach worker at United Way supported agency Epworth. She manages the Normandy-area drop-in center and supervises the street outreach workers that go out in the community to find youth that are in need. Street outreach teams deliver hygiene packages and information about what the drop-in center at Epworth can provide.
For Latrina, work isn’t a nine-to-five gig. She keeps a backpack in her trunk full of hygiene kits and snacks in case she sees someone on the street who needs help. She attends graduations and stays involved with kids’ lives beyond their time at Epworth.
Many youth served by Epworth are missing a support system at home, so Latrina steps up and tries to fill in the “mom” role as best as she can for those who need it. Dubbed “Momma Trina” by youth at Epworth, Latrina makes sure everyone gets the support they need.
“Once the kids can come in and take care of their basic needs, then they can talk about other areas they need to focus on,” she says.
But, “Momma Trina” doesn’t coddle. Youth never get to just take; they’re expected to help out, clean up after themselves and help the younger kids. It teaches them responsibility and empathy.
With her own kids, she says it’s important for her to teach them to think beyond their own comfort zone. She shows them how “to help others and empathize in a way to see other people as human beings and in a way to see the big picture.” She says it’s especially important to help others see the big picture rather than one-way thinking.
“I think that I have grown as a person and all the training and all the people that I’ve met has made me better,” she says. “I see how I affected the life of my kids. It’s almost immediate, when I see that they are not in really need for anything; I want that for other families. I want that for other kids, other youth to be able to grow gracefully and not have such a difficult time.”
About Epworth Children and Family Services
Epworth’s innovative, holistic and comprehensive treatment approach helps youth focus on solutions, build on inherent strengths and communicate more effectively. Nearly 13,000 individuals turn to Epworth each year for emergency shelter, residential and intensive treatment, family reunification therapy, transitional and independent living programs, foster family care, prevention services and a 24-hour help line. Epworth’s strength-based therapeutic philosophy builds on the individual strengths of youth and families, thus increasing the capacity of each to thrive in society.
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