The kids. For Katie Seaman, it has always been about the kids.
“Making sure that kids have someone to advocate for them,” she said.
In February 2022, Katie began working part-time with JCFS Chicago’s Sunday Respite program. It’s a weekly opportunity for kids who receive services at JCFS to have some time apart from their families. For three hours, they have their own activity in which to participate apart from their siblings and a place to gain social and emotional skills while also providing a well-deserved break for parents.
“The parents are excited to hear about their kids’ days and see them connecting and engaging and trying new things and growing,” Katie explained.
As an undergraduate with a public health and pre-medical school major at Loyola University in Chicago, Katie realized that she needed to find a volunteer position to boost her future application to medical school. Her workload was too heavy to both work at JCFS and volunteer somewhere else, so she decided to flip her JCFS role from an employee to a volunteer.
“I didn’t want to leave and not be able to do Sunday Respite anymore since I really loved being able to do that,” Katie added.
She was drawn to this program because she could be paired with the youngsters at a one-on-one level and connect with them despite both being at completely different points in their lives – to see them change weekly through their interests and engage with them in a way the children appreciate.
Katie gave an example based on her interaction with a younger teenage boy in the program who wasn’t at all interested in small talk with her at first. Then, she said, “A couple of weeks ago, I worked with him, and brought up something about a superhero that I knew, and he immediately grabbed on, and we talked for the entire three hours about different superheroes.”
She will graduate in 2024, complete a master’s degree in public health before going to medical school to eventually become a physician – possibly specializing in pediatrics. Katie’s focus, as always, is on the kids.