While earning her degree in Human Services and International Affairs at Northeastern, Abbey Holland completed two co-ops with Camp Harbor View (CHV), an organization that runs programs for Boston youth and their families. When she graduated in May 2022, Abbey decided to join CHV’s team full time as a coordinator for the Guaranteed Income Pilot Program.
Since 2007, Camp Harbor View has been a resource for Boston families offering year-round programs that create long-term opportunity and economic mobility. The Guaranteed Income Pilot Program, a partnership with UpTogether, launched at CHV in August 2021, providing 50 Boston families with a no-strings attached payment of $583 per month. The money can be used for anything the families need, such as groceries, medical bills, or child care. The program stems from a decade’s worth of peer-reviewed evidence, which shows that even a small amount of guaranteed income can support families in achieving upward economic mobility. The goal of the Guaranteed Income Pilot Program is to support lower-income families by relieving some of their financial burden.
As the Guaranteed Income Pilot Program Coordinator, Abbey has seen the impact that the program has had on these families firsthand. She spoke with us about her experiences with CHV, from her first co-op to her decision to join the team as an employee.
Why did you choose this co-op position?
I did three co-ops, and this was my third and final co-op before graduation. I had started my co-op cycle with a different organization; I was working in a shelter, and it didn’t end up working out. There were no families living in the shelter, so there was no work for me to do.
I ended that position early so I could have a more meaningful experience at my last co-op. I already had a strong relationship with Camp Harbor View, so I went back to my former supervisors, who I consider to be close mentors. I asked if they had anything I could jump in on, and the Guaranteed Income Program was suggested. It was close to the beginning of the program, so I was really interested in getting involved in it early and being able to contribute.
What responsibilities do you have day-to-day? What do you enjoy most about your position?
What I enjoy most is getting to be in contact with the families and program participants who are actually receiving the money and reaping the benefits of it. Day-to-day, I manage and conduct monthly check-ins with the families, host monthly workshops facilitated by financial partners to help participants make the most of their money. I work with data and tracking to show the success of the program and to tell the story of what Guaranteed Income means to our families. I really love the ability to showcase their stories and to be part of that with all of our families.
How did your experiences at Northeastern in the Human Services program help you in your role at CHV?
In Human Services, a lot of time is dedicated to looking at systems and social services and how we want to fix them. It can sometimes feel really idealistic and unattainable in the country we live in and with the government we are navigating to achieve the goals discussed during classes. So it’s been really cool to contribute to a program like we were talking about in my classes. I feel like my classes gave me the ideas and the desires, and now I’m actually getting to help see it happen.
What have you learned since starting your position or working on the co-op?
The world is an expensive place to live and to navigate, especially for the families that we’re serving and working with–largely people of color coming from historically marginalized communities. They’re facing challenges paying bills, raising their kids, and putting food on the table. The simple fact is that receiving $583 a month is making a really large difference. Seeing the power of investing in families and their independence has been pretty great.
What have been the most rewarding experiences for you in this position?
At CHV, we largely serve youth but we also impact their families, so I would say the joy comes from getting to see the kids that come to our center every day, and getting to build those connections as well. I love coming to work every day because I get to see all of their faces.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m very happy in my position! I have a lot of room to learn and grow where I am right now, so I am happy to do that for now and see where I may end up next. I definitely have intentions and hopes to go to grad school, but I’m not sure for what yet. So I am continuing to figure out what I’m really interested in and what I want to do moving forward.
Do you have any advice for other Northeastern students looking for co-ops?
I would say don’t be afraid to make an opportunity for yourself. I did that for two of my co-ops and I’m still working at one of them to this day. It definitely paid off to make a co-op for myself by connecting with a program I knew and felt comfortable with. I would also advise students to follow their passion when looking into co-ops. It’s a really unique opportunity to get to work somewhere for four to six months, potentially a couple of times, throughout your college career. Choose something that you’re really interested in and will make you happy, not just the big names.