Meet Kendra Cooke: Social Service Worker
Kendra Cooke’s story of coming to HOPE House begins with her love of singing. It seems unlikely, true, but upon joining the Guelph acapella singing organization, The Over Tones, she was introduced to the Executive Director of Michael’s House, a fellow member of the chorus. Kendra was in university at this time, studying international development and, until this encounter, had never considered Social Work. However, this woman felt that Kendra would be perfect and offered her a job at Michael’s House, where Kendra fell in love with social work, admitting she cannot imagine doing anything else. It was then that Kendra’s began her quest to understand the impact of intergenerational trauma and poverty, upgrading her skills to include different trauma and therapy based programs, and brain research.
Learning that healing is possible for adults who have experienced intergenerational poverty and trauma if and when they’re able to form healthy attachments with others was an epiphany for Kendra. “Healthy attachments can completely break cycles through strengthening formerly unhealthy brain pathways and put people on a different course” explains Kendra. This interest propelled Kendra into mental health and addictions work and, eventually, into starting her own non-profit organization, Simply Curious, supporting healthy attachment for children and the adults in their lives.
When asked to describe her role here at HOPE House Kendra explains that her primary job is intake, which means that she meets with anyone who is new to HOPE House and our services and she orients them to the supports we provide. Kendra also provides system navigation through the rest of the community and runs HOPE Around the Table, an EduKitchen program that helps us all connect over healthy food choices. Kendra supports the Circles® program through meal planning and running sessions based on her interests in brain research and emotional intelligence. Gathering stats for our Trillium Grant applications is also on her roster.
But these are concrete details and don’t really capture Kendra’s personality and devotion to her role. When asked to describe herself as a Social Service Worker, Kendra replies,
After working in a variety of positions with a variety of people I’ve developed an ability to read between the lines and to be able to recognize unspoken emotional and spiritual needs. Therapeutic listening is a huge part of what I do. I’m not a counselor, so I don’t counsel, but sometimes just asking somebody about who they are validates their importance and helps them to reflect on who they are. I’m not judging others. I’ve faced my own problems and addictions, have gone for counselling, and it helps me to meet other people where they’re at and help alleviate them of some of the shame they carry with their own stories. HOPE House is amazing. I feel trusted. I am made to feel like I have something special and unique to bring to the team and to the community as a whole. I really, really love it here.
If you are new to the HOPE House community, or need guidance in accessing assistance, please email Kendra at firstname.lastname@example.org or come in and meet with her in person