Q&A with Coaching Manager Melody Valdes
We sat down with Melody Valdes, Coaching Manager, to learn more about the work she is doing and how coaching is intrinsic to our holistic model at United South End Settlements. Melody, who moved to the United States at age 12 from Cuba, joined USES nearly ten years ago as an Early Childhood Education teacher. After teaching for almost seven years, she saw the need at USES for whole-family support. She transitioned to the Workforce Development Department and helped launch our new Coaching Model.
Tell us about the coaching work you are doing at USES and how it supports the whole family.
At USES, we believe that as families stabilize, become more resilient, and connect to a diverse network, they and their children are more likely to develop the skills that they need to succeed. Through coaching, we provide parents and caregivers with an opportunity to develop their own capacity to reach goals, increase their income and assets, and expand their social networks. As parents become more stable, their level of stress is reduced, and therefore their children are more likely to thrive – both in and out of school. Empowered parents will raise empowered children – parents that believe they are able and capable will raise kids that believe this for themselves as well.
How exactly do you approach Coaching with participants?
I believe everyone I meet with has something to offer. We use a strength based approach to our coaching – what do you already have that we can expand on? What are your strengths/skills? How can we leverage those in support of your goals? And, if there’s an obstacle or a barrier we need to get through, then we create a plan to work on it. I worked with someone looking to improve her financial situation, and together we developed a plan. Within nine months, she had increased her credit score by 95 points, as well as secured a promotion and significant salary increase. This was her goal; as her coach, I served as a support system, and helped her to think of strategies and steps to achieve it. Ultimately, she found her strengths, and used them to accomplish her goal.
Why is this model so vital for USES children and families?
This model is vital to the parents and caregivers that we are serving because it allows them the opportunity to pause and create space and time to identify their goals, name their motivation, and work toward achieving results. Our parents are busy, and sometimes feel like they can’t take the time to focus on themselves. But once they begin this work, they realize that ultimately their drive is also motivating their children and showing them that it is possible to reach for their dreams. Kids see themselves reflected in their parents first, so “if my mom is doing this, so can I,” and there, we begin to break the cycle. That is what coaching means for our families; hope, reassurance, and support!
VIDEO: On Wednesday, August 22, Melody joined USES President & CEO Maicharia Weir Lytle to speak with Chris Lovett on Boston Neighborhood Network to talk about our whole family approach and new coaching model.
What do you ultimately see as the goal of Coaching?
The goal of coaching is to increase the bandwidth of our participants, and allow them the opportunity to focus on what’s next. When you are living in poverty, you are under tremendous stress, making it very difficult to focus on more than one task at a time, and even less on our goals. We are not poor because of our choices, but rather continue to make those choices because we live in poverty. Coaching, in my opinion, helps us break that cycle and begin to form habits that will empower and allow us to achieve results. I believe we all have the potential to reach our goals, and coaching allows us the opportunity to tap into that potential!
It’s really inspiring to see Melody grow into her role as Coaching Manager. She brings a unique outlook having had started out working with children at USES as a preschool teacher, and now is able to bring that perspective when working with parents and caregivers.”